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Transcript: Mayor Adams Holds In-Person Media Availability

October 24, 2023

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. Today, Mayor Adams has once again convened senior leadership from across our administration to answer your questions and address important issues. We launch these media availabilities with the goal of providing New Yorkers with a cleaner line of sight into the work of city government.

And as we enter week four of this new forum, that is exactly what we have done and continue to do. We've been able to bring together leaders with decades of experience to answer questions, and we've been able to deliver information in a clear and comprehensive way. We look forward to continuing that process this morning.

So, joining us today we have Mayor Eric Adams, First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright, Chief Advisor 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 Chief Counsel Lisa Zornberg.

So, without further delay, I'm pleased to turn it over to Mayor Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thanks. Thanks so much, DM Levy. You know, it's clear, we're in what, 21, 22 months of this administration. We inherited a city, at the time we came into office, we were coming through the pandemic. Crime was soaring in the wrong direction. We were having real challenges of getting people back on our subway system. We were having a real employment problem. Jobs, tourism, everywhere you looked it appears as though we were moving in the wrong way.

Many people stated that it was going to take five years to really get the city back in the right direction; well, we did not believe that when we came into office and we still don't believe that. It's clear: last week, we were proud to announce that the city now has more jobs than it has ever had in its history ‑‑ not in this year or last year, but in its history. And really great job by Deputy Mayor Maria Torres‑Springer and her team specifically, but the entire team for coming together and creating the elements that we needed to get people back to work.

Subway ridership peaking at four million riders. We knew we had to make the subway system safe, that's why we put in place the Subway Safety Plan with the governor. I cannot thank you enough for her support during that time. We also knew we had to make a government less bureaucratic, and Deputy Mayor Maria Torres‑Springer and her team went into every agency and made them do an examination of the challenges that everyday working class people were experiencing, and we change many of those rules that were really holding back businesses from opening.

We have recovered all of the nearly one million jobs that we lost during the pandemic, and we have created more than 280,000 private sector jobs during this administration. This is a watershed moment for our city, a clear sign that New York City is not coming back, New York City is back. Every time I'm on Times Square, that's my indicator, when I go out there late at night and watch people walking and enjoying this amazing city.

Our plan was clear, we had a triangle offense: people, public space and public safety. We knew that if we're focused on working class people, being able to settle over 85 percent of our union contracts. People were really amazed what Commission Campion was able to do with some of the most difficult contracts like the ferry boat operators, 13 years waiting. We were able to seal the deal, get it done.

Bus operators, did you notice there was no strike? Our children had no interruption in their bus operations because we were able to get it done, because working class people realize they have a working class mayor and we're going to give them a fair contract, and we did it over the weekend with our supervisors and administrators in the New York City Public Schools. A fair contract, and able to allow them to be able to provide for their families in our city.

So, our triangle offense is working. Today, we're taking two more steps on our Working People's Tour to celebrate the city's comeback with New Yorkers and continue to move it forward. This morning, we highlighted the success of a groundbreaking program that is helping to retain nurses. Nationally, the programs of nurses retention and support, they receive a number about 84 percent. We're over 96.5 percent. We know there's a nursing shortage, so we are leaning in to make sure our nurses get the support that they deserve.

And later today, we're going to celebrate Pier 94, really excited about Pier 94 Studios, a major new film and TV complex that will create 1,700 jobs and new public space in Manhattan. This is really the triangle offense at work, and New Yorkers are feeling safe. Crime is continuously decreasing. Employment and jobs are up. You know, really that's the math that we clearly love to see over and over again. They're going back to work, they're riding our subways.

And I hear it every day when I'm out on the streets and moving around, people have picked up the signal of the thumbs up and saying, Eric, we know we have a lot to do but we feel optimistic that we're moving in the right direction, in the midst of the crises.

I cannot get any clearer. This administration has been able to move from survival to thriving in the midst of crises. Covid was a pandemic that was an international crisis, and we cycled through that. And now we are dealing with a crisis that has never been witnessed before, a humanitarian crises of this magnitude in our city. And in spite of that, we continue to move the city forward, and that is what we're going to do. We're not going to focus on the challenging aspects of it only, we're going to come up with solutions and move it forward.

Bill Clinton said to me the other day when I had lunch with him, he gave me the smile and he says, Eric, the city did not elect you to define the problem, they elected you to fix the problem, and that's my job. My job is to fix the problem and we're going to fix the problems that the city's facing. So, again, thanks so much, Deputy Mayor Levy.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Sure. And since we're talking about the great job numbers, Deputy Mayor Torres‑Springer, is there anything you wanted to add maybe about some of the great information… 

Deputy Mayor Maria Torres‑Springer, Housing, Economic Development and Workforce: Good morning, everyone. As the mayor mentioned, last week was a real high water mark in our city's history, and humbly beseech everyone in this room to highlight, it would be fantastic to highlight that resurgence that happened, for a number of reasons, but including, of course, the fact that there were many headlines during the height of the pandemic, right, that talked about how the city was dead, that it was doomed.

And we stayed focused, no distractions — as the mayor has asked us to do — and just proceeded to grind. And what we got last week was really in many ways the fruits of that labor. So, let me just share some facts, because I think they're quite staggering and they bode well for the City of New York even if we, of course, as the Mayor mentioned during the press conference, still have work to do.

So, that's 4.7 million jobs, an all‑time job record in the 400‑year history of our city. We've recovered close to a million jobs that we lost during the pandemic. That number ‑‑ 965,000 ‑‑ that is essentially the entire population of cities like Austin and San Francisco. We have recovered more jobs than those cities have people. Since the mayor took office, we've added 280,000 private sector jobs — so, we've added more jobs in this administration than cities like Buffalo and Jersey City have people.

In addition, since the Mayor took office, the unemployment rate in the city has gone down by three percentage points. The labor force participation rate at 62.6 percent is really the highest in recorded history, essentially. We are growing at 2.7 percent, that is higher than New York State, higher than the national average.

Our average wages are also going up close to two percentage points year over year, and we've added close to 40,000 small businesses since the mayor took office. Essentially what that means about one in seven small businesses in the city is new.

And so those are statistics that really point in the direction of a city that has recovered. As the Mayor mentioned last week, we have more work to do in driving down disparities in the unemployment rate and making sure that sectors that have not fully recovered...because many have from education and healthcare, professional and business services, finance, all of those are at job levels that exceed pre pandemic. In some other sectors, we have a little bit more wood to chop.

But we are in this position — the most jobs in the history of this city — because we've all been partners on the same mission, which is to make sure that we not only recover in the wake of the pandemic but we really thrive. I'm so happy to talk more about any of the gains in the sectors that continue to fuel our economy.

Mayor Adams: I like that, no distractions, stay focused and grind. Remember you said that on the campaign trail, Michael?
Deputy Mayor Levy: Thank you, DM Torres‑Springer. I think we're all very impressed by your team. Even Dana Rubenstein is very impressed. Right, Dana? Charles, let's go to off topics.

Question: So, the migrants were moved out of Touro shelter after the FDNY inspection. Have they been moved to other shelters; and since this is one of several sites recently given vacate orders, my other question is, why isn't the FDNY brought in before you open these facilities up?

Mayor Adams: And they are, and I'll let Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom, who has been doing just a herculean job on this, she could go into details, because they are. I cannot say this enough. You know, we are out of the room. And it's not "if" people will be sleeping on the streets, it's when. We are at full capacity. And every day the DM and her team, H + H, chief of staff, every day they are getting in new people and we have no more space for them.

And the city has been fortunate in not seeing the visual signs of this crisis, but you're going to start seeing the visual signs of this crisis like you're seeing in other cities. We are out of room. And the places that we are finding are really temporary locations. They're not meant to house people in. This is what we are faced with, and I don't know how to get this any clearer. When you are out of room, that means you're out of room. You know?

Every year, my relatives show up for Thanksgiving, and they want to all sleep at my house, you know, there's no more room. That's where we are right now: we are out of the room. Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom.

Deputy Mayor Anne Williams‑Isom, Health and Human Services: Yes. I think the only thing I want to add is that I'm just amazed that we continue to normalize this and that you ask questions about, "what about this spot" or "what about that spot" and not talk about the fact that it's 130,000 people that have come to New York City so far, and that we literally have 120,000 people that we are caring for; when we started the administration, that was 45,000.

And I know that everybody knows that, but I think we have to keep on going back and saying to ourselves, how is it possible that we are still in this place? How is it possible that we don't have a decompression strategy and that we are trying to juggle people from one site to the next? So, to answer your question, yeah, there were some sites that needed to get closed, because we are trying to make sure that migrants are safe.

We are. Right? New York City is saying we're caring for 65,000 people the best that we can. The staff did a great job yesterday at a hearing, and one of the council people were like, yeah, you're doing okay, but you know, you could be doing more. What more could we be doing? We opened up a legal clinic. We are having 20,000 young people in school. No families and children have been on the street.

We keep on asking the state to help us with resettlement; I think they've resettle 20 families? I wish I could say I could stop at 20 families, I can't say that. Every day we are trying to figure out how do we make sure that people are where they need to be. So, my answer is yes, we are moving people to reticketing to see if they want to be reticketed. If they can't be reticketed, we put them in a space where they could wait for availability.

Let me just say this: this is why the 60‑day and the 30‑day notices are so important, because that's the only way I'm going to be able to make space in the system for people who come through the front door.

Mayor Adams: And you know, you just made me think of something. Can we do a roundtable, deputy mayor, with those who have great ideas that think they know how to solve this problem? Because we know we're doing what other cities aren't doing, and so I'm open to have folks come in a room with their ideas of they solve having 2,500 people in some days, some days 4,000 a week. And so let's do that. Let's bring in all the groups and organizations and tell them to come in prepared to do a working group.

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: We can definitely do that, but remember, the White House has already said that New York City is doing the best practice in this country. We've already seen that Massachusetts is like, I'm going to get up to 7,500 and then I'm going to close my door. We've already seen Chicago go down to the border. So, I'm happy to have a roundtable, but I'm not sure I'm going to see some brand‑new ideas.

Mayor Adams: Yes, I want to try. And maybe, you know, invite the President to hear some of these great ideas that people have. And we welcome people from the press who have some better ways we could do that. Right now, New York needs help. All of us are in this together. So, some of you who are covering this story that are, you know, asking these questions, if you have some good ideas for us on how to manage the situation, I am begging for your ideas. I want ideas from anywhere on the globe to help us manage an unsustainable problem that has been dropped into the laps of New York City taxpayers.

Question: I want to follow up on the migrant question. I wonder if you can tell us how many of the shelters that you're using now have received vacate orders from the fire department, that you're trying in some way to correct so you can use those facilities. And are you worried that the facilities that you're using could have life‑threatening problems that you've decided to overlook because you need the space?

Mayor Adams: No, we were very clear. You could be told that… The Fire Department can tell you that within 30 days you have to correct a problem. You know, no one is going to be placed in a location that has a life‑threatening issue. You know, so if the fire department comes in as in any other place or the Department of Buildings, they say you have X number days to correct. If you don't correct it, they do a vacate order. If the fire department tells us we have to vacate, we're not going to break the law, we're going to follow the law.

And so what we are concerned about is that we're going to run out of places and people… You're going to start to see people sleeping on the streets.

Question: Mr. Mayor, [inaudible] close the shelter in Manhattan that had no fire alarms, and for three months you have people living there while you were trying to correct the problem and finally you realized you couldn't. That's an example of the situation where the Fire Department expressed concern about that place but you still had people living there what you're trying to fix the problem. It had no fire alarm for three months and people were there.

Mayor Adams: Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom.

Camille Joseph Varlack, Chief of Staff to the Mayor: We had fire guards….

Question: [Inaudible.]
Mayor Adams: Okay, let the deputy mayor… 

Joseph Varlack: We had mitigating strategies at that location which the Fire Department was aware of including fire guards that were there. When they came back to do their additional inspection, I think as we discussed last week, they gave us an indication of whether or not we could continue to use the location. They said we couldn't, and so we moved those individuals.

Mayor Adams: So, understand… 

Joseph Varlack: Every single location was opened with the FDNY and the Department of Buildings having come in and done an inspection.

Mayor Adams: Understand what the DM said: there were no fire alarms, but we had fire guards. We were told that we could use fire guards. Those are human beings that are well trained, that understand, that were there. So, we weren't just saying we're not going to have any fire warning system, there was a system put in place.

Question: [Inaudible] problem that you have that you have no space and that you're having to use spaces that are not ideal because you have to find some place to put them, and that… A place that is not ideal is better than the street?

Mayor Adams: Do you know what? In over 50 years I never thought I would say this again, but I'm going to say it now. Eureka!
This is what we've been trying to say! I mean, what is it going to take before people understand what "out of room" means? Yes. We're placing people in conditions that are unfair for migrants and it's unfair for New York City taxpayers.
That's what we've been trying to say over and over again. And we're doing it like no other municipality. No other municipality is accomplishing what we have accomplished. But I want to be clear: the visual signs of these crisis in our city, people are going to start to see it.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: I had some questions in regards to Tim Pearson. I want to know his exact role when it comes to the migrant crisis. Does that include unannounced visits to migrant sites? What is he looking for? And does it concern you that when he's making these unannounced visits it's leading to some physical altercations with security on site? Have you spoken to him about those incidents?

Mayor Adams: You said lead into physical altercations? Of my knowledge, there was one altercation. You know, unless you, you know, because that was plural, what you said, unless you are talking about more, I'm not aware of them. Part of how I run this administration, you have to inspect what you expect or it's all suspect. You see it out on the campaign trail, too.

I have Tim Pearson doing unannounced show up at migrant HERRC shelters to make sure that we are following the rules and to make sure that I'm immediately notified. I'm responsible for these sites. It falls on me. And I need someone to go in and do these visuals and come back to report to me so I can get in contact with either the chief of staff or the deputy mayor or Molly, whomever, to say I'm told this is happening at this location, because I started a getting reports that people were loitering in hallways. We were having a large number of illegal mopeds at locations.

I was starting to get real reports, and I need a quality assurance person that is going to let me know directly, this is what I'm seeing on the ground. That is how I operate. And that is his role, to show up unannounced, because if you call and say Eric is on his way to a location, everybody's going make sure everything's all right. That is not how you do this.

A quality assurance person goes in unannounced and do an inspection to make sure that everything is operating accordingly. Are we throwing out too much food? Are we doing things inappropriate or illegal? He brought something to my attention at the Randall's Island site based on one of his observations, that I went out last weekend, around one a.m. in the morning to do my own observation, which turned out to be correct. And we rectified that situation. So, that is his role. His role is to go into any and all of these sites. He reports on what he finds in those sites directly to me.

Question: Does it concern you, though, that there was an incident at one of the sites?

Mayor Adams: And that's under review. That's under review to see exactly what happened and to see if there's some other procedures we need to do. You know, this is part of the whole reviewing process. And this, you know, let's be clear. This is what happens when you are dealing with a crisis of this magnitude.

To be able to be, what, over a year in this and still being able to manage this crisis, you know. And I think the term that the deputy mayor said is so appropriate. We've done this job so well that many of you have normalized this. There's nothing normal about what's happening to this city right now. There's nothing normal about what New Yorkers are experiencing. We have disrupted the lives of New Yorkers, and we have unfairly placed migrant and asylum seekers in situations, and this is a financial crisis that the city is going to experience because of that.

Question: Did you speak to him personally about that incident?

Mayor Adams: It's under review.

Question: Mr. Mayor, I had a question about the court conference over Right to Shelter last week. Your administration agreed to court mediation, supervised mediation, but Legal Aid, you know, I know Legal Aid has solutions that they've been talking about that they said you guys have not been fully on board with like expanding housing vouchers. You know, I guess, what would you like to see going forward at this point through these negotiations?

Mayor Adams: Corp counsel is handling that, and I say all the time, idealism often collides with realism. Anyone believes that we can just give someone a voucher, we already have a housing crisis in our city. We don't have enough inventory. We're not getting the support that we need; hopefully, this year in Albany.

But the ideas that people of, you know, okay, build more housing. Okay. That's what we want to do. But if you build more housing, a building doesn't go up in a week. The question that needs to be asked is, what do we do right now? Right now. That's the question that many people don't want to answer. Right now we're having thousands of people come to the city, what do we do with them right now?

I like the long‑term stuff that people are talking about, and I'm hoping that everyone goes to Albany with us this year to get the housing that we need. But right now… And so right now, the corp counsel, we have made it clear: 40 years ago or whatever number of years, this conversation came about about right to shelters. There's no way these folks are going to tell me that the architects of that right visualized that this city was going to receive over 130,00‑something migrants and asylum seekers to the city.

And just think about this for a moment. There's two schools of thought in the city right now: one school of thought states you can come from anywhere on the globe and come to New York and we are responsible on taxpayers limited resources to take care of you for as long as you want, food, shelter, clothing, washing your sheets, everything, medical care, psychological care, for as long as you want and it's on New York City taxpayers' dime.

But there's another school of thought that we disagree. So, that's what you're seeing playing out in the court right now, we just disagree. We agree with the overwhelming number of New Yorkers that believe our hearts are huge but our resources are not endless.

Lisa Zornberg, Chief Counsel to the Mayor and City Hall: Mayor, if I could…

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Zornberg: If I could add in response to the reporter's question. So, the mediation that was ordered by the new judge assigned in the Callahan case has required all three parties to participate in mediation. So that's Legal Aid Society, New York City and the State of New York. And then to the mayor's point secondly, when the Callahan consent decree was entered back in 1981 over 40 years ago, that was a settlement agreement that did not determine any legal or factual issue.

And as The New York Times reported, the immediate impact of that decree back in 1981 was that the city had to find 125 additional beds; and, it further reported that those beds would be found in the Catskills upstate. So, there's a very sharp contrast between the expectations and understandings that went into the settlement agreement over 40 years ago and the situation we're dealing with today.

Mayor Adams: I noticed you passed over Lisa again.

Question: Thanks for the time, Mr. Mayor. So, just, so sticking with the migrant crisis, how successful has the city been in placing work authorized asylum seekers in jobs? And if you have a number on that, if you could give that to us.

Secondly, I'm sure you're aware that the New York City Council held a hearing yesterday on the cost of, you know, what this crisis is weighing on the city. And there is a little bit of criticism on what the city projected in budgeting. Your administration indicated they had spent 1.4 billion in fiscal year 2023. In the adopted fiscal year 2024 budget, there was approximately double the amount, 2.9 billion. But in August your administration released new projections that estimated the cost of [inaudible] increased to 4.7 billion and go up again after that to six billion. So, I think the question is, you know, why has there been, I guess, a discrepancy there.

And lastly, a separate topic on housing. The turnaround rate for vacant NYCHA apartments has more than tripled since your administration has come into office, according to NYCHA reports. I'm just wondering why and what might be being done.

Mayor Adams: Yes. Okay, DM Williams‑Isom will talk about the costs and DM Maria Torres‑Springer will go into the NYCHA conservation. Okay?

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: And also, Maria, you can mention some of the work ideas that we have and with the food industry and hospitality and others. So, I think it's a very simple answer that the census is driving the cost. Even if we think about cutting costs with food or security or other things that we definitely have been trying to do, when we made our original projections we have X amount of people that were coming through the front door; and as you can see, you know, with the numbers, those numbers kept on increasing to the point where there were 4,600 people coming into the system.

And while I think we're doing a great job with our exits, and so exits is if we're giving people identifications, we're helping people to get connected to family members. We really want people to get resettled other places, but because of the number of the inflow our inflows are still higher than the amount of people that we're able to get out of the system, and that's what's driving the cost.

Also, now that we're 18 months into this, the demand and supply are bumping up against each other. So, we're in certain hotels. People are raising their prices around the hotels. We're trying to find a limited amount of places that are appropriate. So, all of those things become more expensive as you see as we move along, which is why it's so important to be able to get ourselves and see ourselves through this, which is what can slow down the front door, how can we decompress people into other parts of the United States, frankly; and, how do we make sure that we get more support, financial support from the state and resettlement support from the state.

Deputy Mayor Torres‑Springer: Great. Thank you, DM Anne. So, can I, I'll just, I want to add to what we are doing to make sure that we can leverage our public workforce system for asylum seekers once they have work authorization, then I'll tackle the NYCHA question. So, we have the Workforce1 system, it's about 18 different centers across the city. And they are prepared, once asylum seekers have work authorization, to connect migrants to job training, job opportunities and other services, because as they have told us, they have told everyone, you know, they're ready to make the contributions to our economy and to our city.

We also recently stood up an initiative including a Web portal at — americandreamworks — where we are taking information both from migrants and from employers. So, as DM Anne mentioned, we've been working with many different partners across industries such as hospitality restaurants, et cetera, so that we can solve the twin challenges of providing work opportunities to migrants as well as labor shortages in certain sectors. And so we think there's a win‑win there, and we've stood up the infrastructure so that the city can continue to do its part in addressing this crisis and really turning it into an opportunity for our economy.

In terms of NYCHA, those turnaround times reflect a couple of things. They reflect the fact that number one, and we have to all remember that a lot of NYCHA units become vacant after decades of being occupied. We're taking this opportunity given that housing stock to make really critical investments, repairs, improvements, tackling issues such as lead. And so it's not just that...we can't just quickly turn it around without making those quality of life and critical investments. So, that is driving some of the numbers.

In addition to that, as you might know, we have very robust programs like PACT, for instance, that is allowing us to make generational improvements because as we also know that the capital need at NYCHA is very large, and in the context of those programs being able to relocate certain tenants into units, that also has been helpful.

But let me be very clear that our mission here is to make those improvements and reduce those times, so the new leadership at NYCHA including Lisa Bova-Hiatt who was recently appointed as CEO and Jamie Rubin the new chair of NYCHA, both appointed in this administration, are focused on those types of improvements as well as long‑term investments that NYCHA desperately needs.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: I'm good. I wanted to ask about the… Just to switch topics a little bit, the unfortunate rise of antisemitism and Islamaphobia in the city since the war abroad started. And also, if we could get an update about the security situation in the city.

Mayor Adams: The security? Well, you know, I think we have to be extremely careful as we deal with the hate that's going on both ends. We spoke with Sikh leaders the other day who were experiencing these attacks. One dealt with a vehicle accident, we're still determining if that was a hate crime. Then we have the incident on the bus. And when you look at some of these videos, they are challenging, and you hear some of the terms that are being used, and we have to be extremely careful.

And we have to be careful of how we report this. I thought it was unfortunate that there were preliminary reports that made it appear as though Israel blew up the hospital in Gaza. I think that sort of feeds into some of the hysteria that we're seeing, because whatever happens on an international level plays out on the streets of New York.

The New York City police department with all of the threats that were put out on social media, which I continue to say social media needs to get its act together, with all of those threats, with a large number of protests, DM Banks and his team with the commissioner and others give us an update every morning on the number of protests that were taking place.

I think Police Commissioner Caban did an amazing job of number one, having an omnipresence, having all of our officers that are normally assigned to a plainclothes assignment in uniform, having those sensitive locations communicating with our faith leaders in churches and synagogues and mosques all to, you know, go to that "see something, say something, do something," fielding the calls, monitoring the chatter that's out there, because there's a whole system of monitoring the chatter of what people are saying.

The threats and legitimate threats of, you know, we sat down with the team, sat down with the new head of the FBI in this region to talk about, you know, information sharing and how we're going to operate together.

So, it's a real challenge, because the big focus and concern I said to you all last week are the lone wolves. You know, these are those who could be radicalized sitting at home, hearing people call out to take action like the former Hamas leader did. You know, that is what we have to focus on. But I think that, you know, the job that the Police Department did last week and we continued over the weekend. There were huge protests throughout the city, managing those protests, I really commend the combination of the entire law enforcement team.

Yes. Let her finish. Go ahead.

Question: Are you guys conderend about some of the threats that have been made against some New York State officials and councilmembers.

Mayor Adams: Made to… 

Question: State officials and councilmembers here.

Mayor Adams: Whenever an elected official receives any threat, Intel gets it. They do a threat assessment and they make a determination if they're going to have additional personnel or security. And they give them the options, and they have many ways of doing that. And so we're always concerned if someone receives a threat, no matter who it is. But we do communicate and we coordinate with intel.

Question: Mr. Mayor, in terms of the remote work option for non-union city workers, does that go against what you've said previously about urging as many New Yorkers as possible to work back in their offices?

Mayor Adams: I'm a big believer, you know, again, I believe office work is crucial. I think that it allows you to, you know, just cross-pollinate ideas. It allows you to, you know, to mentor and be mentored. But it's clear that Covid brought a shift on how people, what they do around work. And I'm not so rigid that, you know, I don't believe you have to adjust. You know, you have to pivot and shift based on your needs.

And look, we were unable to give our senior employees and workers pay increases because of this fiscal crisis that we are experiencing. Retaining workers is a challenge. It's a real challenge, and some areas like IT, law, others, you know, these areas are really challenging. This is a competitive market, and if we can find a way to keep workers by doing things that's not going to cost taxpayers' dollars, we're going to continue to do so.

And Commissioner Campion has done an amazing job. We rolled this out first with DC 37. We saw some good indicators, and we're going to continue to figure out how do we give benefits to workers, how do we retain them and how do we do it in a way that's not going to cost taxpayers' dollars.

Joseph Varlack: Sure. I think I would just… 

Mayor Adams: Yes, go to a few more.

Joseph Varlack: Yes. I think I would also add that we have now rolled it out to approximately 24,000 DC 37 employees who are already working two days a week, and we're rolling it out to the additional unions that have ratified the contract. And so we are really excited to bring flexibility to the country's largest municipal workforce.

Question: On the Tim Pearson situation, is there video? Have you seen video if it exists; and if it exists, will you release it to the press? The other question I have is, you know, we're talking about being at the point where people are going to be sleeping outside due to the migrant situation. What measures is the city taking to prepare for that, to aid people in that situation, and are they any different than what the city would typically do to address, you know, people sleeping outside, giving them… 

Mayor Adams: That's a good question. First, the video, I haven't seen any video, and if there are videos or anything else, we're going to follow normal procedures about releasing information. I'm sure the counsel would go through whatever those procedures are. But I have not seen any.

And you know, Mike, you asked, that's a great question, because this is new territory for us. So, what I have to do, I have to manage it. I have to manage it in a way that we don't see what's happening in other cities, where you're seeing tent cities pop up all over the place. So, we're going to have to manage a terrible situation.

My goal, my pecking order is we have to do everything possible for children and families not to sleep on the street. That's the top line goal that I have. And then the next goal is that when we reach that point, we need to manage it that it's not a city‑wide visual state of chaos. We have to sort of localize it as much as possible. We have to make sure that people have of some type of restroom facilities, some type of shower network.

So, we're going to have, this is like brand new. I have been having a series of meetings with those who manage this in other countries on how do you not deal with the sanitary issues that comes with it. You know, but this is new ground. The chief of staff and I were on a call yesterday with those who do this in other countries to figure out what we can do to manage this the best way possible.

Question: [Inaudible].

Moderator: [Inaudible].

Question: Thank you so much. I have two quick questions. First for the corporation counsel. It sounds like you suggested that the judge ordered the parties into mediation. I was in the room, it didn't sound to me like he was ordering you. Is this mediation voluntary on the city's part; and if not, what is there to negotiate? And then for you, Mr. Mayor, just following up on the last question. You're talking about localizing it. What do you mean by that, and is there any thought being given, instead of turning these people potentially out on the street and having them remain in New York, is there any thought in moving them someplace else?

Mayor Adams: Like outside the city?

Question: Um‑hmm.

Mayor Adams: So, I'll answer it and then you can speak with corp counsel… I mean, with my chief counsel.


Mayor Adams: Whichever… Lisa can go first. She's a feisty attorney.

Zornberg: First, I just want to correct that my title is chief counsel to the mayor and City Hall, but with all due respect to the corp counsel of the city, who's Judge Sylvia Hinds‑Radix.

And thank you for the question. The state, the city and the Legal Aid Society agreed voluntarily, they are participating voluntarily in the mediations that the judge desired to occur this week. So, that's the answer to the question.

Question: So then what in your view, like what is negotiable under the circumstances since you're out of room and you're at this breaking point?

Zornberg: You know what, the process as designed by the court is supposed to be a confidential mediation that does not occur on the public record, and so I can't speak to that.

Joseph Varlack: I think, however, what I would add is that what we're talking about is how we navigate this humanitarian crisis under a doctrine that was not designed for it. Right? That's very specifically the issue and we have been having those conversations in meet and confers over the past few months, and those will continue, and these mediation sessions will just include the court.

Mayor Adams: So, your question about local… We're going to have to find large spaces, you know, large spaces. You know, the chief of staff and her team, they have been doing analyses, that's part of what Tim has been doing, to see where these large spaces exist throughout the city and try to create a controlled environment to the best of our ability.

Question: [Inaudible].

Mayor Adams: Yes, outdoor spaces, wherever space, whatever space we can find. You know, when you run out of space, you, whatever space we could find we're going to use. And we want to do it as humane as possible.

Moderator: [Inaudible].

Mayor Adams: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. This is an important question.

Question: I just want to make sure I understand… 

Mayor Adams: Yes, yes.

Question: ...because that sounds like something new that I haven't heard you say before.

Mayor Adams: I'm sorry?

Question: It sounds like I have not heard you say that before, unless I'm wrong… 

Mayor Adams: Right.

Question: Are you saying that that's something other than an outdoor like tent or a HERRC like we've seen at Randall's Island or you know, other sort of it different from that?

Mayor Adams: Yes. Well, what the chief of staff is doing right now by using outdoor spaces. We are expanding the globe, we're not waiting until the day of, we're expanding the globe and we are tapping into international people and we're finding out what are our options. Because believe it or not, you know, tents are costly also. You know, tents are costly, everything is costly.

So, what we're dealing with right now is a depletion of resources that is going to threaten our ability to provide the basic services to New Yorkers. And I can't allow that to happen. I can't allow the basic services to taxpayers New Yorkers to be depleted at the state that I cannot provide those services.

And so whatever we can do to find that balance, we're going to do. And I cannot say...I can't make it any clearer: this is going to hurt and it's not going to be pretty.

Deputy Mayor Levy: And I would just add, Melissa, you know, the mayor said this multiple times, all options are on the table. So, again, all options are on the table. And to the point that you said of, you know, would we consider transferring people outside of… Yes, that's why we have a reticketing center. That's what we've been doing since the first HERRC, we've been trying to connect people to the next step on their journey. So, we do that every single day.

Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Chief Advisor to the Mayor: Let me just add this piece. As the chief of staff said and the mayor said, it's imperative that the federal government and the state put in place a decompression strategy. We are mitigating a national crisis, and it is totally unfair to New York City, and we need help.

So, the mayor has been clear. The press, you keep asking us the same questions repeatedly, and we get it. But these questions are better suited for the federal government and the state. We need help, and you can use your voice to help us.

Question: Thank you. On a similar topic, actually, I think Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom, you mentioned earlier the state's resettlement program. I think I heard you say that 25 families have been resettled, if that's correct?

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: I think I said 20.

Question: Why is that number not higher? Is it procedural, eligibility issues, is it a lack of interest in migrant families moving outside the city? And what more do you need to see from the state to get that number higher if that's part of the issue?

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: Yes, I think there's so many things. I love the way the mayor said that our jobs are to fix problems, and I think that there will be solutions to this. I think the idea about resettling families throughout the state is an excellent idea.

I think they've hit some obstacles, whether it's about housing stock, whether it's about I think they're guaranteeing that people, they'll pay people's rent for a year, maybe that should be more. I think that everything should be on the table in the way that we do it, too, to figure out, what do I need, how do I get people connected?

We have over 100 — I don't know the exact number — of people that we've referred to them. It's in the hundreds now. So, it's not about not having families that have their work authorization or have done their paperwork on the way, it's really about how many units they have available. I think there's about 75 units that they have available right now, but again, we're waiting for furniture or we're waiting for other things.

And I might be like, let's put an air mattress in there, and let's get this done. Somehow people don't have the same sense of urgency I think that we do, because if it was me, I would be like, all right, what do we need to do, what do landlords need, and how do we get kids up there so that they can get settled.

Mayor Adams: And that's a very important point that you just made, DM, and you know, basically I think it is because of, we have successfully kept this out of the eyes of New Yorkers there has not been the same level of urgency. And this is an urgent point. And you know, people are treating this like a policy and not urgency. This is an urgent moment that we are in.


Mayor Adams: Finish out. We do once a week. We'll take four more questions, so what are the four, since we doing it… Yes, hold on.

Question: I want to ask you, I guess, now since I have the floor... 

Mayor Adams: You didn't have the floor. It's just that Ingrid likes you.
Question: ...exempt from the usual city rules about identifying themselves at a shelter and then additionally...

Mayor Adams: I'm sorry, say that again?

Question: Is Tim Pearson exempt from the city rules, identifying yourself at a shelter? And secondly, I know you said you're going to give away your co‑op, last week you said you're keeping it. What's your plan for the co‑op? Why did you decide to keep… Your Brooklyn co‑op.

Mayor Adams: Okay. First, Tim Pearson. We like to standardize the rules, and if there are not clarity in rules, this team is good at going back to the table, do an analysis, okay, what went wrong, what can we do better. We're constantly figuring out what we can do better. And if after the review is done a determination is made there's some rule we need to put in place to give clarity, we're going to do that.

And talking about my co‑op, I don't know if you realize it, but Prospect Heights is now a hot place to own property, and so I'm trying to decide what I'm going to do with my personal property that I announced on my COIB and I follow all the rules. This is my property. I made great investments in Bed‑Stuy. I moved into areas where a lot of folks didn't want to move in. You know, I made areas safe on that block. I made areas safe on Lafayette Avenue.

Many folks did not want to come in. I made it safe and now everyone is enjoying the great work that I've done. So, if I want to...if I wanna hold on to my apartment, it's reported. I say what it is. And I'll make up my mind on how I'm going to deal with my finances. You know, some of you thought I lived in Jersey, you know? So, yes, so you know, I'm making smart decisions.

Question: Thank you. Hi, Mr. Mayor. So, regarding Tim Pearson, nearly a dozen witnesses signed statements with their names saying that you reacted to an existing rule, one that requires you show your ID to enter a migrant shelter, that he responded violently. Will there be consequences for him if whatever investigation it is you're conducting affirms the statements of these people who have no apparent reason to lie.

Mayor Adams: Well, first of all, I've known Tim Pearson for over 30‑something years, and I've never witnessed him displaying, you know, a violent action. He's a professional, and the review will determine if we have to do something different in how our procedures are done. Let the review do… Take its job.

Question: Mr. Mayor, thank you for taking questions. On Thursday, the three-year-old dangerous vehicle abatement program expires. It predates your administration, obviously, but that was a tool, according to the DOT, a flawed tool but nonetheless a tool to rein in drivers who had more than 15 camera issued speeding tickets in any 12‑month period. So, on Thursday, it expires, depriving the city of that tool. And I'm wondering if the administration is working with the council or on its own has a plan to give the DOT and the sheriff's office a new tool or update the existing tool to rein in reckless driving.

Mayor Adams: Yes. I'm not aware that it expired. I thought it was good. I think it was Brad that put it in place. I was standing next to him when he made that announcement. I think we made it on 9th Street and Fifth Avenue after those children were killed. I thought it was a good tool. Tell me about that.

Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, Operations: Yes. Hi. As DOT has noted for the record that it has been a flawed tool and it has been difficult to actually get cars off the road using it, what we will do is what we've done last year and really look to the advocacy world for support is go to the state and get better restrictions and better enforcement tools through state DMV on the registrations and licenses of those who repeatedly run red lights, repeatedly get speed camera violations.

We've proven through camera enforcement how well it works not only in catching reckless driving but in recidivism, reducing those that will repeat that kind of offensive behavior. But for the reckless group that is small but potent we need sharper tools, and that's where the state can be an incredible partner to give us the tools that allow us to take away the licenses, take away the registrations and ultimately the vehicles that are the weapon that are causing the fatalities.

Mayor Adams: These reckless drivers, speeders, they are a part of this small number but they are the problem that we are seeing. And so we will definitely want a tool that will allow us to zero in on them. If we can get some of these riders off the road, you'll see a drastic change. You know, some of them are repeat offenders. When I was in the state I went after the hit and runs, because many of them will rather flee than stay and deal with the accident. And we were not investigating them enough. But we want these reckless drivers off the road.

Question: ...follow up...

Mayor Adams: Yes, go ahead. Let him, go ahead.

Question: A follow up to the tools, we reported today that three DOT asphalt trucks exploded earlier this year as a result of using a product called Cutback. It's a highly flammable asphalt product that a lot of cities, including cold weather cities, have already phased out. So, will you look into possibly phasing out the use of Cutback, this very dangerous flammable material.

Mayor Adams: Was it Cutback is a material, is a chemical?

Question: It's mixed with kerosene or another petroleum product to stick to the roads better, but other cities have phased it out and it has caused some problems.

Deputy Mayor Joshi: So, we're an unusual city when it comes to asphalt. We're one of the few places where we make our own asphalt, and 40 percent of the asphalt that is used on city streets is recycled asphalt. It's the asphalt that we rip up, we take to our asphalt plant — one in Queens and one in Brooklyn — and we're continuously looking to improve that mix. It's like cooking, what's the right recipe?

So, we'll certainly, you know, safety is our number one priority, and so we certainly want to modify the recipe that we're using for our asphalt so it's durable, it's resilient, but number one, it's safe, especially for the workers.

Mayor Adams: So, if I'm allowed, Fabien, you know, before we end, can I do a mayor's choice person reporter?  And today, because of your lovely socks, I'm going to pick you, Nolan.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Where'd you get those socks, Nolan?

Question: Uh, these are… I don't know. I'll look it up.
Deputy Mayor Levy: Be prepared next time.
Question: If I can get a couple of clarification questions. First of all, you said outdoor spaces. Does that mean parks? What do you mean when you say people can end up in outdoor spaces. And did you ever get your liaison from the Biden administration?

Mayor Adams: [Laughter.] Ummm, I think… 
Deputy Mayor Levy: That was a simple answer.
Mayor Adams: I think Fabien said it best: everything is on the table.

Question: And more broadly speaking, you had a suggestion earlier about hosting a roundtable. The remarks seemed to be, come from a place of deep frustration. They seemed to be sort of deeply sarcastic, like… 

Mayor Adams: No, no, no.

Question: folks trying to figure this out and there's a bunch of wise guys over there who think they can do a better job, so… 

Mayor Adams: No, I'm glad you raised that. I'm glad you raised that.

Question: Do you feel frustrated?

Mayor Adams: Yes. There's no sarcasm at all in what I was saying. I am at the point that we're on the verge of what are we going to do with children and families. And I am willing to sit down with anyone that can give us an idea, anyone. You know, if people who always criticize me, who don't dislike me, who would never invite me to a birthday party, oh, let's put all that to the side. How are we going to prevent our city from experiencing this?

And so if people have good ideas that are executable, because you know, anyone can say, give everyone a FHEPS voucher, that's not executable. Anyone could say, okay, the answer to this immediate problem is to build more housing that's going to take two, three years, that's not executable.

If the question is, here's the problem we're having faced on us right now, what do we do right now, that is where we're not getting the answers from. And Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom, the chief of staff, Ingrid, Sheena, they have been throwing it out to everyone. We know the long‑term stuff that everybody says, and we're moving towards that with our housing plan.

But right now, what do we do right now with 2,500 to 4,000 people coming here a week, coming faster than leaving? That's the question that we need to answer. And Nolan, I don't… You know, people may have the answers, so I want to get in the room personally and sit in a room with them around the table and say, here's the problem that we have. Do you have something for right now that we can solve it?

Question: A year and a half in… 

Mayor Adams: Hold on, let Nolan… That was my pick.

Question: A year and a half into this, Mr. Mayor, what do you think is the biggest thing you've learned? Is there anything you'd like to do over?

Mayor Adams: I would say that the biggest, I would… I should have gone to South America earlier. I went to the border and I viewed what was happening at the border in El Paso, but I wish I would have gone to South America earlier and saw what was happening at the Darién Gap, sat down with Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico.

I think that I could have picked up some more. I learned a lot from being down there, and I think if I would have gone down earlier I would have picked up, you know, picked up more. We learned a lot from El Paso with Commissioner Castro, but you had to go in there to see what we are facing. You know, I think that is one area I would look at differently.

But one plus that I'm clear on, best thing that ever happened to us on this crisis was DM Anne Williams‑Isom. [Applause.] You know… She has done… I tell...

I tell the team all the time, keep a journal, you know, but her book is going to be a bestseller. What she has done, I don't know how the heck she's been able to do this night after night after night. You know, where she calls, we got 2,500 people here and we don't know where we're going to put them, and then in the morning she resolved the crisis.

You know, this is a great New Yorker, and we are blessed for having her as she bring that compassion into this. And you know, I don't know… You know, you're not going to do it now, because that's the nature of where we are, but later you guys are going to be looking over what this woman did and realize that the humanitarian crisis that other people would have run away from she stood and weathered that. And I thank her every night for that. Thank you.

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