Secondary Navigation

Transcript: Mayor Adams Joins 77 WABC’s “Cats & Cosby”

November 21, 2023

John Catsimatidis: And my first question to Mayor Adams is, what is your vision to bring New York to its height where it's always been? And we all, everybody on this call loves New York. We want New York to be the greatest city in the world like it's always been. Mayor Adams, your floor.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you, John. And you know, you have been a real symbol of not only the New York dream but the American dream. [Inaudible] come here as a Greek immigrant, worked hard to become a successful businessman. That's only 50 percent of the journey for many of you on this call. Being successful in your business is only the tip of the iceberg. You are successful in ensuring your philanthropic actions to help so many people. You, it's the PAL and other [inaudible] and many of the people on this call have been giving back in so many ways.

And Harry's right. Harry, this group has [inaudible] beginning of his journey, understanding that I had one vision for this city that I believe we can build everything on top of, and that was public safety. Public safety is the prerequisite to our prosperity. No matter how well we're doing as a city, if we are not safe, we cannot enjoy our success.

Our children must be able to go to school safely, your employees must be able to get in their workplace safely, the commuters going on our railways must move safely. And that is what we took upon January first, 2022, when I became mayor.

All of those safety numbers were trending in the wrong direction. Job numbers were trending in the wrong direction. The economy was moving in the wrong direction. And many people stated it would take anywhere from five to six years before we recover, that just was not the case.

What are we looking at now? On this date in November, we're looking at double‑digit decrease shootings, homicides, five of the seven major crime categories are down. People are back on the subway system, we're capping out at four million riders. Tourism is back, over 60 million tourists are going to visit the city.

You're seeing the first and the highest number of private sector jobs created in the city in the history of this city. We are seeing an economy that although we're dealing with the issues of inflation and other issues, we are still recovering because we're smart in how we're using taxpayers' dollars.

And so I'm going to continue to drive down crime, continue to encourage businesses to come here. Yesterday, JPMorgan Chase just opened their headquarters, just topped out a beam at their headquarters, a vision of how our economic strength is always going to be in the city, and I'm going to continue to move us forward.

Our number one issue that we must face right now that I need smart business leaders like yourselves is to help me address the asylum seeker issue: 142,000 migrants and asylum seekers entering our city. We have been successful in getting 50 percent of them stabilized, but we still have over 65,000 that's still in our care.

We need to allow them to work, to fill the employment positions that many of you have. And we need to ask the federal government to, one, have a decompression strategy so the other cities, counties, municipalities can also burden this weight. Two, they need to pay for this. This is a national problem. New York City's taxpayers should not be paying this cost.

And three, we need to make sure we secure our border in a matter in which we're vetting who's coming in so it does not become a public safety issue. We're going to continue to do our job, but we do need the national government to do its job.

Catsimatidis: Well, thank you, mayor, and I agree with you 110 percent. My grandfathers were immigrants that came to America in 1913, and traditionally we had Ellis Island where everybody came through Ellis Island, they went through, they loved America. They make sure they had no diseases, they had to make sure they had no agendas.

And I call upon that we reopen Ellis Island along the borders and say, immigration yes, but let's have checks and balances to make sure we're having good people come into the United States of America and not having drug dealers and terrorists and people that don't really love America. And that's the most important thing, so I agree with you. Immigration yes, but let's have checks and balances. And I think President Biden should get that [inaudible].

And Mr. Mayor, in addition to that, we have 300 business people on this Zoom call this morning, and who in your staff can, you know, sometimes business people have trouble communicating with the mayor's office. Who in your business staff have you assigned to have communications with the business community?

Mayor Adams: Well, you know, they are not going to have trouble interacting with our office. That was one of my number one agenda items of, you know, the three‑letter term "GSD," Get Stuff Done. We are a City of Yes, for far too long we have been a city of no. Any time businesses try to do something difficult or complicated, we started from the position of how it couldn't be done. We believe differently.

My number one person [inaudible] I have a three‑person team that is really driving our economic agenda. Number one, Deputy Mayor Maria Torres‑Springer. She's a real powerhouse. Under her portfolio you have many of the business interests. She is really moving our city forward with housing development, economic opportunities, removing antiquated laws and policies on the books that have prevented businesses from growing, and taking these undue fines away. And she has been a real powerhouse.

The second, is my head of EDC, Andrew Kimball. Many people know him from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, then he went over to Industry City. He has spent years on generating and attracting new businesses here. We just signed… We just did a groundbreaking last week at one of the large studios, movie and television studios in Sunnyside, Queens.

Also, last week we did the announcement of a biotech hub that is being partnered with CUNY on the East Side, which is going to be extremely powerful, thousands of jobs, thousands of union jobs and permanent jobs.

So, you are seeing a real business centered city. New York City is the Empire State… New York State is the Empire State. We build empires here, we don't get in the way of empires.

And lastly, Commissioner Kim. Commissioner Kim is in charge of my Small Business Services. He has put together a real initiative to go after our small businesses and how we give the support that's needed for small businesses and how this is part of our whole job recovery plan. And so I have a real team of people that focus on how do we give businesses up operating function and growing in the City of New York.

Catsimatidis: Thank you. One of the key ingredients me and you have always talked about is quality of life in our city, safety. I'm used to… New Yorkers are used to walking around at nine, 10, 11 o'clock at night. Drugstores were open until midnight, supermarkets were open until midnight, restaurants were open to midnight.

And right now, people are feeling uncomfortable walking around after dark. What can we do to improve public safety? Commissioner Bratton and Commissioner Kelly have said to us, all of us, he said to us, if we took out 3,000 or 3,300 violent criminals off the streets of New York, New York will be back to where it used to be. What can we do to make the quality of life better?

Mayor Adams: And those commissioners are correct. You know how I feel about Commissioner Bratton, I think he's one of the most exceptional public servants and police commissioners we had in the City of New York. It's remarkable what he was able to do as he transformed police departments across the globe.

And he's right. It's is not only actual, it's also perceived. Believe it or not, when people talk about public safety, an example of a mayor that focused on public safety, they talk about Rudy Giuliani. They use him as a symbol as the mayor. We are safer in this city than we were under his last term in office.

Safety is both how the numbers are and how one feels. We must make sure that people feel safe and they are safe, and that is what we have done by making sure our police officers are out in uniform — we call it omnipresence — so that people can see that police officer, because that gives you the comfortability to move around.

Remember when we took office before our Subway Safety Plan that no one wanted to ride our subway system, we're back up to four million riders on our subway system. And so you have people feeling safe again in our city. Just go to Times Square any evening and you see thousands of people that are out there. Broadway is back open, and we are zeroing in on those petty quality of life crimes that people are experiencing. That is how you get your city in the proper order and don't give the feeling of disorder.

But the commissioners are right that there's a small number of people who are repeated offenders, repeated shoplifters, repeated use of guns, repeated grand larceny auto. These are repeated offenders, and we must go after these habitual recidivists and make sure that they're held accountable for the crimes that they're doing repeatedly.

Catsimatidis: You're absolutely correct, mayor. And I have said this to many law enforcement, I said if he… And I've said it to the DA's offices. I said if the person has two, three, four, five, six violations for violent crimes, why are the judges allowing them to be on the streets of New York? You know, at some point you've got to throw the key away. And five violent crimes, six? Whatever the number is, it is.

Now, in addition, the real estate industry is suffering a great deal in New York. The high interest rates that Washington again has done in New York or… Well, nationwide. And a 30‑year mortgage is eight percent, construction loans are eight percent. And regulations, what can we do to ease regulations as far as, you know, you have to have electric toasters, you have to have electric this, electric that. These regulations while we're going through a transition mode are bringing New York city back.

Mayor Adams: And many of those regulations are beyond the scope of the mayor. You know, the mayor either on a state level or a city level, a lot of these regulations are put in place. The mayor does not make those determinations about how we use these different regulations to carry out the functionality of cities and states.

But we do clearly know that we have to do something about our environment. A lot of this stuff, some of the stuff that you mentioned, is dealing directly with some of the environmental change. Electrifying our vehicles, electrifying our heating and cooling sources, that's important, because we're dealing with real climate change issues and some of it is long term and some of it is short‑term plan.

But being smart on how we do it without being overburdening to business owners and taxpayers is what we must have to find a proper balance. But we are on a real mission of improving our environment, because we are dealing with an environmental crisis.

Catsimatidis: I know, we all agree about the environment. We all agree that over the next 100 years we may have the ocean rise two inches. But we've got to survive until we get to that point, and that's what I want, we need… The mayor has lot of power. You can put your foot down, and you're a strong mayor...

Put your foot down and say, guys, enough is enough, let's let our city survive until we get to the next step. And we all want what's best for our environment. We all want it. But it's a timing issue where we don't put everybody out of business in the meantime.

Mayor Adams: Yep. And I agree, and listen, I borrowed from my mom, I'm a common sense person. You know? And common sense approaches to do things in a balanced way.

Catsimatidis: Yes, you've always been a common sense person, that's why we all supported you and supported you eight years from borough president, we're going to support you for eight years as mayor. Thank you.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

Catsimatidis: The next. Has Washington gotten the message yet that we can't just keep shipping asylum seekers? I mean, you tried to get to Washington to present that message. But I guess they got upset.

Mayor Adams: Well, listen...

Catsimatidis: [Inaudible] so you know what I've been saying, is that the fact is they got upset you're going to Washington to give them that message. That's me saying it. You, I don't want you to say it because whatever. But I was very upset about what happened that day, because I thought that the fact is they waited for that day to do whatever they were doing. It was sending a message to, how dare you come to Washington to tell us how to run our country.

Mayor Adams: Well, I think that New York City is part of the country; and in fact, it is the heart and soul of the country, one of the largest economic producers in taxes. We send billions of dollars to Washington, D.C., and I say to the city and state, New York City can't be negatively impacted by this asylum and migrant issue because it's going to impact not only the state, it's going to impact the entire country.

And I can't speculate on the actions that took place a few weeks ago. I'm going to remain focused on moving this city, navigating the city forward. But I need all of you who are on this call, I need for you to speak with your federal lawmakers, write letters, utilize the platform like you have been using your platform, to ask the federal government to give New York the support that they deserve.

New York City and no city — Denver, Chicago, Washington, no city — should be having to carry a national problem on their own.

Catsimatidis: You're absolutely correct. The problem was created by the federal government, the federal government has to help the cities survive through the next step. I also have to commend you, Mayor Adams, on making sure there's no cuts in the police department or fire department, because New Yorkers, their number one is quality of life and we have to keep our streets safe. So, thank you for doing that and respecting our police officers and fire officers.

What is the status of New York City workers coming to work four or five days a week?

Mayor Adams: What we're doing in order to remain competitive with the hiring and with retention...we've been having a real retention problem. I'm pretty sure many of the business leaders who are on right now know how difficult it is to staff up. Many people want to work remotely for one reason or another.

And so we've modified our position here to make sure that although we couldn't give raises to managers, we gave them the flexibility of being able to work remotely a few days a week as long as it doesn't impact on their work, because we have to remain competitive to keep the city running and we found that on exit interviews many people were leaving because they were able to go to other employment opportunities that allowed them the flexibility of work.

And so oftentimes people don't realize city workers must be as competitive as private businesses to ensure you get the best talent to run a city. New York City is a corporation. You know, over 300,000 employees of all of our agencies, all of the infrastructure of running our roads, public safety, education. And in order to make sure a corporation is humming and operating correctly, you must have the talent.

And we need to do whatever we can do to retain and bring in the talent, and that was one of the areas that we saw we were losing good employees because of the lack of flexibility, and so we made that modification.

Catsimatidis: Mayor Adams, yesterday you were with Jamie Dimon from JPMorgan to top off the new building on Park Avenue. JPMorgan, one of the most powerful banks in not the country, the world. And what was your discussions with Jamie Dimon, the chairman of JPMorgan, about getting that building finished and filling it up with JPMorgan people?

Mayor Adams: Well, first of all, I said thank you to him. You know, I thought it was a 1932 moment, and the reason I reflect on 1932, because we were coming out of the Great Depression and it took a real heart of steel to put together steel and build the Empire State Building. And that building became a symbol of our recovery, our strength, and it was done in just a short period of time.

And so that's what Jamie did. During Covid when many people were fleeing the city going to other municipalities, Jamie stated that JPMorgan was born and raised in New York and he was not going to abandon this city. And he made that decision to build that building during Covid, and it is a magnificent building. It's a real symbol of our durability as a city and as a country.

And so I told him thank you, and we're going to get employees in that building and make sure that they remain here in the city. And his whole concern has always been, Eric, you keep it safe for us, we'll keep building and growing in this city.

Catsimatidis: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. We have about a few minutes left. What else would you like to tell all New Yorkers about making our city have a comeback? We had, I had Jimmy Patronis on my show the other day, he's the CFO of Florida, and he's bragging that they're going to make Miami the capital, the financial capital of the world. I said, Jimmy, I said to him, New York is the financial capital of the world. What would you say to Jimmy Patronis?

Mayor Adams: Well, you know what? We like some good, friendly competitiveness. That is what America is about, is about the best will always emerge from the top. When I sit down with world leaders during the U.N. General Assembly, I sit down with mayors across the globe, with other leaders, heads of state. No one disputes the fact that New York City is number one. They argue about number two and number three, but when it comes down to what is the top city on the globe, everyone understands it's New York.

So, people will always be chasing New York, New York will never be chasing anyone else. And we're going to continue to remain not only the financial capital, early tech startups. We have surpassed other areas of San Francisco. We're the safest big city in America. And diversity is our secret weapon. We are one of the most diverse cities on the globe. And we're going to continue to produce that good product that we can expect.

This city is a city where dreams are made. And I think as I stated in the beginning, you personify that by being a young man who had a dream, and look where you are now. Who would have imagined you would be running one of the top radio stations as well as being a good business leader.

This is what we produce in New York. You did not become John Catsimatidis in Miami, you became John Catsimatidis in New York, and there's a whole lot of John Catsimatidis that are sprouting and growing right now in this city.

Catsimatidis: Thank you. I love New York, and I'm going to always stay in New York, Mr. Mayor. Last question. Last question. It's a tough question.

Mayor Adams: No such thing as a tough question.

Catsimatidis: Congestion pricing. You know, [inaudible] everybody yes, you know, we have one nail in the coffin for New York City and Manhattan. Why put a second nail in it? Why can't we just wait for congestion pricing for when after New York City makes a big comeback. I mean, I think you should go to the MTA and tell them that. They've got a zillion… The MTA and the Port Authority has a zillion dollars. What's an extra billion to them? Let's not punish New York.

Mayor Adams: Well first of all it's a federal decision and the MTA. It's unfortunate that New York City doesn't have a greater voice since this is playing out on our city streets. I believe we should have a greater voice in the formation, the distribution of money and it should be coming to New York City because this is a New York City issue. The MTA and the federal government, they are in true control over this. Our state lawmakers are also part of it. We have an appointment on the committee that is going to voice the concerns of New Yorkers, particularly we don't want to displace traffic into those areas that are already dealing with real health issues like the Bronx. 

And so there's many layers to this and it's imperative that we have a full participatory plan where people’s voices are heard that we don't overburden and overtax those who have to use those those streets daily or or those who have to come to the city for whatever medical procedures such as, you know, if you're going for cancer treatment or something. So we are very much going to add our voice to this conversation with the MTA.

But you know we cannot argue the fact that we have a real… Again, the congestion from buildings emissions and car emissions is a real issue in the city as it leads to the environmental issues that we're facing so we have to come up with some good solutions and we have to make sure we do them in a timely way.

Catsimatidis: Mr. Mayor, if you put your foot down all New Yorkers will be behind you and that's a commitment from all New Yorkers. And I want to thank you for your time. I want to thank you for coming on this Zoom call with us and I look forward to helping you in any way possible to keep New York the greatest city in the world. Thank you so much.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. Take care, good to see you guys be well, everyone. Happy Thanksgiving.

Catsimatidis: Happy Thanksgiving.

Media Contact
(212) 788-2958