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Transcript: Mayor Adams Holds In-Person Media Availability

November 28, 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. I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and we appreciate everyone joining us today for our weekly in-person media availability.

From day one, this administration has brought a whole of government approach to our work, whether it's delivering good paying jobs for working families, deploying upstream and downstream strategies to prevent gun violence or caring for over 140,000 asylum seekers since last spring, we've worked across agencies, teams and leaders to get stuff done for New Yorkers.

This morning, the mayor has once again convened many of those leaders to answer your questions and provide insight into our work. So, joining us today, we have Mayor Eric Adams, 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 Strategic Initiatives Ana Almanzar, Chief Counsel Lisa Zornberg and Department of Education First Deputy Chancellor Dan Weisberg. So, without further delay, I'm pleased to turn it over to Mayor Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you so much, DM Levy. Many of you heard throughout my time in government, my response to housing, living on the verge of homelessness as a child and knowing how important housing is.

Often missed from the conversation was NYCHA, and this administration under Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer and former chief housing officer, they both understood that NYCHA was going to be on the forefront of what we did around housing.

And we look at all of our proposal, you'll see that NYCHA is number one. And I was really proud last week to join Governor Hochul and lawmakers as we rolled out a real plan for dealing with NYCHA's emergency rental assistance for residents, and it was included in the state budget.

When you look at what NYCHA is going through, almost $80 billion in capital repairs that are needed. And people keep stating that next year, next year, next year, and we all know that next year never seems to come when it's down to the NYCHA residents. And we said no to that and we led from the front.

But not only with the emergency assistance dollars, we are also proud that later today I'm headed back to Nostrand Houses in Sheepshead Bay with just a high level of excitement and activity from those NYCHA residents and tenant leaders that are there, as we're going to start the process of encouraging residents to vote for the future of their homes.

They will be the first public housing residents in America with the option to vote for the Public Housing Preservation Trust, which would unlock billions of dollars for much needed long overdue repairs, whether to enter the Permanent Affordability Commitment Together program or whether to remain as Section 9 housing.

So, they're going to vote and determine on their own. Self-determination is what housing residents have been asking for a great deal of time and we got it done in Albany and now we're going to actually operationalize that in the voting process today.

And in the coming days, we'll announce the next NYCHA development where residents will have the chance to vote for the future of their homes. This is an incredible opportunity. Anyone who has spent time in NYCHA and advocated on behalf of NYCHA residents know how important this is. And I'm excited that we're doing this during our administration. Hats off to Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer and her entire team for making this happen in less than two years.

And also, once again, it is just so important to talk about the number one issue that we are facing, and that is the migrant and asylum seeker crisis. We continue to manage through the asylum seeker humanitarian crisis and we have become a national model.

People have visited New York City from across the entire country and even some international locales, they walked through, saw what we're doing in our intake centers, our reticketing, how we are processing applications, and we continue to receive anywhere from 2,000 to almost 3,000 migrant asylum seekers a week.

That is a continuous number that is just not sustainable. We stated it over and over again and we're seeing the byproducts of how this is impacting the people of this city. We have seen the strategies that we put in place, they've been successful. Over 50 percent of those who have come through our system, they are now self-sustaining in one way or another. That is a remarkable achievement when you see how we had to stretch the resources that we had to put in place, more than half announced self-sustaining.

And earlier today, we announced that we have helped file more than 16,000 asylum work authorization and TPS applications and that we are launching a resettlement working group to identify ways to help more people achieve independence and self-sufficiency despite the absence of a national strategy.

New York City cannot develop a national strategy. It must be developed by the national leaders. And cities across America are now joining our coalition of stating that we need to have a national solution to the problem.

And it's long passed due for the federal government to do its part and pay its fair share. New York City remains clear-eyed that for a year and a half now, New Yorkers have been paying the federal government’s overdue. 

And New Yorkers are angry. No matter where I go, I hear it from New Yorkers how they feel and some of the efficiencies, cuts that we had to put in place. And I am saying to New Yorkers, I join your anger. This is not the budget I want to pass. I want to pass a budget that invests in children, older adults, our infrastructure, keep our streets clean, provide the public protection with our police officers. That's the budget we pass. And that's the budget we wanted to keep.

But the November plan caused us to go back to the table because of the course of not only the migrant and asylum seekers, but sunsetting of Covid dollars, making sure that our members of the civil service population, union members are paid a decent salary. All of these came together to create this perfect storm that we are facing and that we must address.

But the biggest part of this is dealing with the asylum seekers that our city is facing. And I'm going to continue to raise my voice and state that New York does not deserve this. And I share the anger that New Yorkers are feeling at this moment as they are watching this play out in our city. DM Levy, I'll turn it over to you so we can answer some questions.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Thank you, Mayor. So, we'll take some off-topic questions.

Question: Mr. Mayor, we're hearing that the pilot program for Knightscope, which is the robot patrolling Times Square, is ending soon. What's the status on that? And can you tell us how this company got on your radar in the first place? Do you know of any other cities that have contracted with them? Are you satisfied with the program?

Mayor Adams: Okay, tell me which program. I need… 

Question: Knightscope, the robot that's patrolling Times Square.

Mayor Adams: Yes, the police commissioner will do us… Give us an observation of, an overview on how well it's doing, and are we going to expand it, so he will give a briefing on exactly what his thoughts are and if we are going to grow the program.

Listen, many people know from my days in the State Senate, I believe in technology. When you look at the State Senate, we looked at cameras on guns for police officers after we had some shootings.

You can look throughout my career, I'm a tech geek. I was a computer programmer as a transit police officer. We have to run cities better and those technologies that are not appropriate, we're just going to move on and try something new. So, the police commissioner will give you an overview on it.
Question: Thank you. Mr. Mayor, I want to circle back to something you said last week in response to my colleague Michael Gartland’s question. You said that the first time you went to Turkey was on a Senate delegation trip that also included a stop in Azerbaijan.

None of your financial disclosures from the State Senate include any information on such a trip. So, I guess the first part of my question is, why was that not disclosed if it was a Senate trip? When did that trip happen and who else was on it?

And on a separate matter, I just want to check in about the status of Brianna Suggs's work on your reelection campaign. Is she still raising funds for reelection or has her duty's been modified in any way since the FBI raided her home?

Mayor Adams: So, let me peel it back in layers. My first actual trip for those who was here, that was the first governmental trip. But the first trip that I went on was a personal trip. It was… I actually joked about it. It was on Thanksgiving of that year. It was, I think, a three day trip.

And we would look at our Senate records. There was a trip that we went with the State Senate. [Assemblymember] Cymbrowitz was on the trip with me, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz was on the trip, Assemblyman Brook-Krasny also joined us on the trip.

But I'll look at the record. If it wasn't, it was an oversight and we'll find out how we can modify it if that was the case. And with Brianna, she's no longer doing fundraising for the campaign.

Question: [Speaks in Spanish]. How are you?

Mayor Adams: Good.

Question: With this FBI investigation against your campaign and now with the lawsuit for alleged sexual assault, do you feel that if maybe some political persecution, if so, who could be behind this?

Mayor Adams: I can't speculate on unknowns. There's one skill that I have that has helped me throughout my entire professional life, it’s how to put things in a proper compartment and surround yourself with trusted people and always being able to stay focused, no distractions and grind, those are the three words I use often, and I can't speculate how things happen.

I have a very complex city to run. And from my days of being mentored by Mayor Dinkins, I was clear that the goal is to make sure that we move the city forward. And the team will do the proper things that's done. One thing I'm clear on, that we need to deal with this asylum seeker crisis. It has impacted our city, but I can't speculate on anything other than that.

Question: Mr. Mayor, how are you? Your office has said that a list of buildings that are being prioritized for fire inspections doesn't exist. But your FDNY commissioner has said this list does exist. Could you clarify this discrepancy and you think it's okay to prioritize some projects over others?

And then secondly, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said that she doesn't trust your budget math and that the cuts might not be necessary. What is your response to her?

Mayor Adams: DM, yes, go ahead. Go ahead, Deputy Mayor.

Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, Operations: Because the title of the list that's been reported in the press is DMO list. And I'm the deputy mayor of Operations, and I have no knowledge of this supposed list. It may have existed under prior administrations, that may be a reference to its existence under prior administrations by the fire commissioner. Under the Adams administration, there is no DMO list.

Mayor Adams: And we should be clear. People go back to my campaigning. I talked about the bureaucracy of government. It takes too long. No one wants to build in our city. No one wants to open a business in our city. People have, on the campaign trail, they've stopped me, they’ve talked about my business roundtable, my small business roundtable.

And what Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi has done under the SBS, under all of the entities in her portfolio, and what Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer has done. We've stated that this place can't be so cumbersome, but we follow the rules. Let's be clear. The same way we will handle a large building, we will handle a small property owner that's having the challenge of navigating an entity.

This is what we do. We believe in get stuff done. That is what this administration prides themself on. But this creation of a list, this administration did not create a list. We do not have a deputy mayor of operation list to expedite. We believe in moving bureaucracy.

Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, Housing, Economic Development and Workforce: Mayor, can I just add to that?

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi mentioned at the last briefing that part of our work was to fix the systemic issues that have plagued building and growth in the city. These are issues that are related to land use, to permitting, to environmental review.

We didn't do this yesterday. The mayor charged us with doing this in the first year of this administration. And for those who want to geek out on the details, which we often do, I'll remind everyone that we put out a full comprehensive report called Get Stuff Built with 111 recommendations for fixing the land use, permitting and environmental process.

That report went out in December of last year, 111 recommendations, all of which are being implemented, 20 of which are done. And so our job has been, from the very start, to get stuff done is to clear the red tape, clear the obstacles that prevent the type of growth that this city needs so that we were able to — and we have done that — accelerate the economic recovery of our city.

Mayor Adams: And the greatest negative that I discovered on the campaign trail, we have something called, in the city called expediters, where people who do business with the city, they build it into their budget to hire a person to get stuff done inside a governmental agency.

You need to hire an expediter? You need to hire a professional to take you through the city? And we said no to that. That's not the city we are going to be, where you have to hire. So, if you don't have the money to hire a professional, you're left on the side. No, we don't believe that in this administration. And that's what DM Maria Torres-Springer made sure that we get stuff done in the city and get stuff built.

Deputy Mayor Levy: And, mayor, if I could add. DM Joshi, excuse me. Last week you said, just as a reminder, that the Fire Department is conducting inspections this year at a rate of 33 percent faster than last year, and DOB is conducting inspections within four days. Four days, and that's faster than any of the last five years.

Deputy Mayor Joshi: Yes. And I think it's important to note, when we took office, that the time to get a fire inspection was upwards of 30 weeks. And we're also users of the system. So, city agencies themselves were waiting for these fire inspections to take place. That has really, really been reduced, and it's to the benefit of not just private entities that need fire inspections done, it's to the benefit of total city operations, including our agencies.

Question: Do you have a response to AOC on the budget math?

Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Chief Advisor to the Mayor: Respectfully to AOC, it would behoove her to go to Washington, D.C. and meet with her colleagues and put together a decompression strategy and immigration policy rather than look at our budget. We need her help. That's what she's there for. She's supposed to put together an immigration process, and if an immigration process were in place, New York City wouldn't be in the condition that it's in now.

Deputy Mayor Levy: I would also just point out that we did a technical briefing for reporters. We have the budget books that are out there. So, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez can actually look at all these numbers upfront.

But I think the budget situation we're in is another reminder of how critical public-private partnerships are to our city success. And the perfect example of that is the Fifth Avenue Holiday Open Streets. That's been helped greatly by private partnerships. So, maybe if Deputy Mayor Joshi wants to talk about that a little bit.

Deputy Mayor Joshi: Sure. So, the model that the Fifth Avenue redesign is based on is one that's new and we think very, very promising. It is a partnership between the city as well as the two anchor parks, the jewels on Fifth Avenue, Bryant Park and Central Park, represented by the Bryant Park Corporation and Central Park Conservancy, as well as two of the BIDs, the Fifth Avenue Association and the Grand Central Partnership.

Together with the city we are working on a design. That kickoff has started just about two weeks ago, and the idea is that we will do the entire boulevard redesign with both input from the commercial industries, the commercial organizations and the park organizations that deal with the entirety of Fifth Avenue as well as the people that work there and go there for leisure. As well as a financial contribution from them, which is the important part given the budget constraints we're under as well as our clear imperative that we need to make as much public space available and maintained and clean for New Yorkers as possible.

And we will not give up on that mission, but we will certainly continue to pursue public/private partnerships that allow us to make New York available to everyone at all times.

Question: Well, ciao, everybody. Buongiorno. Back from Sicily, thank you.

Mayor Adams: [Inaudible] Sicilian.

Question: Yes. On the budget. I have two questions, actually. On the budget, given that you're looking for these cuts and you had given generous contracts in city contracts, are you looking, would you look for concessions from the unions either as part of a negotiation or in a future negotiation?

And number two, the teacher in Hillcrest High School is expected to be back in school today. What are you doing to ensure her safety, and what's happening at the school?

Mayor Adams: So, Dan will talk about Hillcrest. I thought it was the right thing to do for the chancellor to go out yesterday. But dealing specifically with the unions, we gave them fair contracts. Fair. City workers were reaching a point that they could not live in the city that they were working in. Over 300,000 city workers, some of the contracts were outstanding for years.

And there's an interesting energy that's out that there are people who complained about the cuts to, you know, to holding up a police class but they were the first that were saying that, you know, why are we doing the contracts that we did? We had to keep our… We have to remain competitive in the city.

And so, there are people who are actually now who are marching against the fact that we gave fair contracts to cities, but they say they fight for workers' protection. We can't have it both ways. When we looked at an analysis of our teachers, we did an analysis of our ferry boat operators, my Staten Island residents were telling me we need to settle this contract. I think it was 13 years without a contract… 14? You know, without a contract.

We settled 80 percent of our contracts in a short period of time, outstanding contracts. And my goal was to be clear, I said, listen, I'm a union, blue collar mayor. We need to pay a fair salary. And these contracts were longstanding. We cannot have a city that's not, number one, not affordable to city working class people; number two, we have to stay competitive.

It's unbelievable how people, we're losing employees because we're no longer competitive for a number of reasons: economics, being able to work from home, different benefits. You know, being a city worker is not an easy job, and so we did the right thing with those union contracts. We didn't give away the store, but we made sure that city workers were able to walk into a store and buy the things they needed for their families.

Question: And as far as Hillcrest?

Mayor Adams: Yes. Dan, deputy mayor… I mean, deputy chancellor.

First Deputy Chancellor Dan Weisberg, Department of Education: Thank you, sir. So, first I just want to say Mayor Adams made clear, Chancellor Banks made clear, it is totally unacceptable for that teacher to have been targeted by a protest for her stand on Israel, for her identity. That, we cannot allow that to ever happen again. We have been in close touch, the chancellor has been in close touch, I've been in close touch with the teacher.

She is not back there today but we expect her back in school soon to do what she loves to do, which is to teach ninth graders. And we have been in close consultation with the School Safety Division, with NYPD to make sure… With the superintendent, to make sure when the teacher does come back that she will be safe, that we have a safety plan in place and that she will be safe.

And we're fully confident of that. As the mayor mentioned, chancellor and I and our team were out at Hillcrest for the better part of the day yesterday, and in addition to the chancellor making crystal clear that what happened there was totally unacceptable and we have to avoid that in the future, he also did something that is very important: he showed up and he listened.

He listened to dozens of students who talked very honestly and openly about their feelings and their issues. He listened to teachers talk very openly and honestly, and other staff members, about their feelings about this incident, and the principal, and leadership.

And you know, in the coming days there are going to be forums for parents also, who are of course a critical piece of the equation, to make their feelings known. That's very, very important that we listen. It's the only way we're going to move past this.

Hillcrest High School is a great school. It has been a jewel for a long time in that part of Queens, in Jamaica, Queens. It is unfair the way aspersions have been cast in broad brush, criticisms have been made of students and staff and so forth. This is a great school, though it is going through a very difficult time. They are going to get through it, and we are going to help them through it.

But above everything else, we're going to make sure that teacher is back, doing what she loves to do, teach kids, and that she is safe in doing so. And there are already plans being made to make sure she doesn't just come back and is safe but is welcome, is welcomed by students, is welcomed by faculty. Including, by the way, Muslim faculty, Jewish faculty, other faculty that everybody, the principal, the assistant principals, everybody's wrapping their arms around her. And that's what we are putting in place.

Question: So, she has security in her classroom?

First Deputy Chancellor Weisberg: I don't want to get into the specifics of that, for I think fairly obvious reasons. But just trust to say we are talking to the experts at NYPD, school safety as well as the teacher herself to make sure that she is safe.

Mayor Adams: And let me say this. We would never reach a day in this city where every individual classroom is going to need armed security for our children to be educated. That is not going to happen. And that would be a huge indictment on who we are as a city. There's no place for hate in this city, and we're going to have the proper decorum that is expected of our students and that's expected of our professional staff.

But we will never reach a day in this city where our children will look in the back of the room and there's going to be an armed security guard there to make sure that they can be educated. That is not going to happen in this administration.

This is a very complex time. And I've said this over and over again, and I know people often ignore when I say it. Our young people, their lives are on social media. And social media is filled with so much trash, so many lies, so many distortions, and that is where they get their news. They don't pick up the tabloids. They're not listening to and reading the papers. They're reading these algorithms that are feeding their pain.

And if we don't make these social media platforms more responsible, they are hijacking our children. And I don't know why we're not seeing what is happening to our children and this complicated conversation that's being played out. If you add that to the fact they're teaching them how to ride on top of trains, you add that to they're teaching them how to steal cars, how to shoot guns. They are destroying our children.

And this is one of the examples. What happened at Hillcrest played out, but this conversation is playing out throughout our entire city and our country if not the entire global, and it is being fed by what they're getting off of social media.
Question: Mr. Mayor, you were talking about the humanitarian crisis in New York City, and it's not about human rights and humanity. And you are the mayor of each and every person of New York City. Your views on the crisis, humanity crisis in Gaza especially.

And then we witnessed that in third-world countries, the political opponent use women as a tool for their political opponent to discredit them and to disrespect them. We see some news regarding your, in some news outlet… Your views on that, too.

Mayor Adams: Well, a couple of things. One, the humanitarian crisis, innocent people should not die, should not die. Hamas must be destroyed. I've said that over and over again. They're a terrorist organization. Their actions were horrific and barbaric.

And the thought that the hostages are being released, all the hostages should come home. And this complicated conversation that is playing out in Israel and Palestine is something that has been in place for far too many years. And I'm hoping that, just, this generation can see peace.

But innocent people should not die. And what took place on October 7th I was very clear on and very specific: Hamas does not represent, in my opinion, Islam. It represents terrorism. And those who are of Muslim faith and all other faith should be very clear that innocent people should not die. And that is what I feel of everyone that's involved in this.

Question: Hi, Mayor Adams. I wanted to ask you… 

Mayor Adams: What's happening?

Question: Oh, you know, same old, same old.

I wanted to ask you, first, it's a question about migrants, and then it's a question about a staffer. I wanted to know — and maybe Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom can answer — because we've spoken to some migrants who in order to not lose their seat in line to get a bed, they're sleeping outside. And I know there's a Cold Blue. So, do you have the average wait time for beds? What precautions are in place given the Code Blue? And how many people are waiting for beds? 

And you previously, your office had said in response to our story about your staffer, longtime staffer or first volunteer now staffer, Winnie Greco, that you were reviewing what we reported. What does that review entail? I know your spokesperson Charles didn't say. And is she still currently an active and paid employee on your staff?

Mayor Adams: Yes. Winnie's still an employee with the City of New York. And whenever there is, let's be clear, whenever there's any form of allegation of any city employee, there's a process. We have a Department of Investigation. They conduct their reviews. And I do not get involved with the reviews of the Department of Investigation if it reaches that level or any other review.

I have a real hands‑off policy when things are being reviewed. You know, we get everything from the Police Department to other entities, other agencies. The city is very procedural when it comes down to, if there's a complaint made on any time, that is reviewed by the appropriate agencies.

Question: And have you spoken to her?

Mayor Adams: When I see her, I say ni hao. You know, that's "hello."

You know, I don't go into, I don't communicate anything dealing with the review, anything other than the work that needs to be done.


Deputy Mayor Anne Williams‑Isom, Health and Human Services: Yes, I was going to answer the question. So, no one should be surprised that now we are seeing many people who are coming to their 30 days time limit and want to get reticketed. They come to the place that we have for the reticketing.

We know that about only 20 percent of the people are not leaving, which we're very happy about. But with 120,000 people that we're taking care of and with not the help that we need from the federal government, we knew that we would be at this moment.

When there is a Code Blue, it's not my understanding that any of the migrants were there overnight. I know that people have been getting to the reticketing site early in the morning so that they can get on line. They're trying to look for a spot. And you know, I can't tell you what the average wait time is because if there's something available we will give it to them.

But that's not the point. We're not trying to be on a merry-go-round of go through one door and come out the next. We want people to get resettled in other places. We want people to be reticketed, especially now since it's cold. They want to go to a warmer environment or to be with family and be in other places. So, what we're seeing right now is what we have been predicting for many, many months, that it is very difficult because our capacity is full right now.

Question: Okay, so are you saying they're not sleeping…

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: I'm saying that what we've been reporting, I think even like this morning there were 200 people that are on line at our reticketing center. I don't know that there's a massive amount of people who are sleeping outside.

Mayor Adams: And we don't want that. Let's be, you know, we need to be extremely clear, that is not all desire. But when you reach capacity, you reach capacity. And you know, what Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom has been able to accomplish, and Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack, has been able to accomplish is, you know, getting people in.

So, we don't want this. We've been talking about this for over a year now, of you know, over 200 shelters that were opened. You know, this is just not sustainable. And so now the winter months are coming, we're really concerned about people being in inclement weather. But this is the reality that we're facing as a city.

Deputy Mayor Levy: And I would just add as a reminder, Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom has spoken about this multiple times, but states like Massachusetts are also cold states, cities like Chicago, cold states, they've already put limits on how many people can come in. Massachusetts, I think, capped it at less than 7,500 families.

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: Yes.

Deputy Mayor Levy: We're at over 140,000 people.

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: Yes.

Deputy Mayor Levy: And you know, from 140,000 plus people, less than half are still in our care. So, you know, people are moving on to the next step of their journey, and that's what we've been trying to help them do over the last year plus.

Question: Yes. Good morning, Mr. Mayor. How are you? Small businesses make up 40 percent of the New York workforce. We just had Small Business Saturday last week. Could you update us or brief us on how well it did?

Mayor Adams: Do we have any exact numbers, Deputy Mayor Maria Torres‑Springer?

Deputy Mayor Torres‑Springer: I'm happy to talk about our efforts, and I'll follow up on specifically what outcomes were from Small Business Saturday. But we try to celebrate small businesses, of course, no just on Small Business Saturday and every year because they are such critical drivers of our economic recovery.

And when you look at factors that led to the all‑time job record, it has included the resurgence of small businesses. The last count about, I think one in seven or one in eight businesses that exist today in New York City, small businesses, opened in this administration. So, we're really seeing that resurgence.

Last week, as part of Small Business Saturday, we did a number of activations and partnerships to make sure that New Yorkers continue to think big but shop local, shop small and shop often. And that included efforts with our Business Improvement Districts, it included a number of media pushes to make sure that New Yorkers knew about how and where to shop and to do that and a number of other activations.

So, we'll follow up specifically on how we did, but I think if the last couple of years is any indicator, we're going to see that those numbers are strong because New Yorkers love their small businesses and everyone knows that they're critical not just for neighborhood strength but for the continued recovery of our economy.
Question: What has the Biden administration responded to and what have you specifically asked for from them?

Mayor Adams: Our talking points have been the same and our directions have been… They have been clear: we need a decompression strategy at the border. You know, 108,000 cities, towns and villages throughout this country, we could absorb this better if we had a decompression strategy.

Second, we need to secure the borders. We need to be clear that whoever's coming into our country is properly vetted, and wherever those areas people are coming through without being vetted, we need to make sure that is secure.

And then this pricetag, this pricetag should not be placed on cities. Not only New York. The coalition we put together with Denver, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston as well as the State of Massachusetts, we're saying that local municipalities should not have to pick up this cost. It's wrong for the asylum seekers and it's wrong for the taxpayers of these different municipalities. And we believe it's imperative. The number one thing that just makes sense to me, let them work. Let them work.

Question: One more question. So, have you… It sounds like you're on the same page almost as Governor Abbot in Texas, because he says some of the same things that you just said. Have you talked directly with him?

Mayor Adams: Well, he's on a different book than I am, you know. My book is collaboration and not to displace the problem I have in the city to other municipalities. That's wrong to do.

And we reached out at the beginning of this and stated how do we coordinate together? If he wants to be part of the coalition of Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Houston and others, we welcome a unified voice around specific issues. But we're never going to reach the point where we're going to treat people in an inhumane way.

What he did was inhumane to place people on the bus, force them out of the state and not giving them the proper restroom facilities, food and other items. It's just not how you treat other human beings. So we are not on the same page with that, and in fact, we're not even in the same book with that.

Question: As far as Brianna Suggs is concerned, why is she no longer fundraising for the campaign after you initially said she would continue to do so. Have you asked her to step aside?

Mayor Adams: I'm not going to go into personal conversations, and you know, this is, as we said over and over again, this is an active review. And the question was asked is she still fundraising, and I said no to that.

Question: Yes. I want to go back to the migrant crisis. City Comptroller Brad Leader's in D.C. today meeting with some White House officials. I wanted to get your response to that. You've criticized him in the past for being the loudest voice in the room but not doing enough. Do you think this trip will be helpful?

I also wanted to get… You announced today that you've helped over 16,000 migrants apply for TPS and work authorization. How many have actually gotten work authorization? And final question, you announced today about the Corona Plaza vendors. I wanted to know how those 14 vendors will be chosen and when those permits will go out.

Mayor Adams: DM?

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Yes, you want me to start?

Mayor Adams: Yes, please.

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: So, I actually had a conversation with the comptroller this morning when he was on his way down to make sure he had everything that he needs. So, I'm very excited that he's down there. I hope, I wish all New Yorkers and people who have any influence can make sure that they are saying about what New York City has been doing, how we have weathered this storm and how if we don't get the financial support that we need and all the other things that the mayor talked about that we are sort of bearing the brunt on our own. So, I was happy to have that conversation with him this morning.

What was the other question you asked about migrants? Oh, there was… 

Question: [Inaudible].

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: So, Camille, I think we got notice from the White House that it was about 2,200. I don't know if those people have been mailed their work authorizations, but it's our understanding that about 2,200 people have been given the right to work

Camille Joseph Varlack, Chief of Staff to the Mayor: And those 2,200 are emanating from the federal work clinics as well as the applications that we've submitted, and then separate from that, there are several hundred that we know already have their work permits in the city.

Mayor Adams: And you know, we need to move faster, you know in getting work permits. That is the top of the agenda. We have thousands of jobs that are available. We need to make sure we allow people to fill those jobs.

And when it comes down to the controller, I'm happy he's going. You know, it took a little while. And it's probably $2.7 billion less than what we should be asking for, but you know, I'm glad he's going. All citywide electeds should go, because this is the number one issue that's facing the city right now.

And we all should be on the same chorus on what our city needs. Our city, we do not deserve this. Being the financial capital of the country as well as the state. You know, what happens here cascades throughout the entire country. And so I'm glad he's down. I'm hoping he is very clear on what the needs of the city that we should be pushing for.

Joseph Varlack: And thank you, chief adviser, for the reminder. It's approximately 650 in addition to the 2,200.

Deputy Mayor Joshi: On Corona Plaza. Thank you for raising it. The press release went out today, and it is a real positive partnership that allows for both the use of the plaza as public space for walking and meeting as well as a place for people who have historically done vending outside of the specter of legitimacy to have legitimacy and provide vending services.

So, there will be a market manager, QEDC, and they will run the marketplace. They send proposed vendors to the city. We have to vet to make sure that they have the right food handling licenses as well as tax licenses in order for them to be okay to vend in Corona Plaza as well as we manage and set the ground rules for the hours of operation and ensure that the performance benchmarks are met by the market manager.

So, we're looking forward to seeing how it works. It can be a model for other sections in the city where we also have a place and a need for community culture and vending to be alive and legitimate, but we don't right now have that framework. So, if this works, we're able to replicate it in other places in the city.

Question: Would you look to expand the program at all? It's 14 right now, would you go up?

Deputy Mayor Joshi: It will depend on how it works, so that's the point of the first four months is to monitor and see how we can balance both the needs of local businesses, people who want the pedestrian space in Corona Plaza as well as the need for vending.

Mayor Adams: What we're not going to do, we're not going to go backwards. You know, the councilman and residents reached out to me. I went out there one night around 1 a.m. in the morning and the place was a mess. Trash was everywhere. People were selling food under pigeon droppings. There was no real coordination.

And I made a commitment that we were going to correct the problem. And so this is a result of the correction of the problem, so we're not going to go back to what it was like. And if it's successful, as the deputy mayor stated, we will duplicate it in other areas. But we have to be respectful of the businesses who are there. They pay light, gas, they pay taxes. They're selling products.

So, you can't stand in front of a store with all of this overhead selling a product without paying any of those items. You know, that's just not fair to the brick and mortar businesses. And so we're going to find the proper balance, but we're going to do it in an organized, clean way. And that's the result of it, coming together as a partner.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. How are you?

Mayor Adams: Good, how are you doing?

Question: I'm doing just fine. I'm just asking, your legal defense fund, have you landed on anybody to run the fundraising for that?

Mayor Adams: [Inaudible].

Question: For your legal defense fund that you created, have you landed on anybody to lead the fundraising for that? And this might be for more deputy mayor, but with the reticketing center that is in the East Village, what is the city doing, since the migrants are telling us they're getting up at 5 a.m. to line up, sometimes they're waiting 12, 13 hours not getting into a bed because everything's full.

So, since… Like, what is the city doing then to keep them warm? Obviously, the temperatures are going to start dipping during the day. And then why consolidate all the reticketing to one place where then it's forcing hundreds of hundreds of migrants to line up outside each day.
Mayor Adams: Well, first, you know, and I want to thank some of you who are in the media, I'm not going to call you out, for asking me how you can donate to me. You know, it was really kind of you.

But I'm going to identify my infrastructure and the law states everything must be transparent. and once we have that infrastructure up and operating, it will be transparent and you'll see exactly who's doing what.

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: Craig, so you know that I'm going to say I understand why you're asking me these questions, but I almost want to say, these are the questions we should be asking the federal government.

We are doing the best that we can. We are setting up legal clinics. We're focused on resettlement. We're working and trying to coordinate with other cities. We are reticketing people. We are doing the best that we can, and we're trying to cut budgets and make sure that the places are appropriate for folks.

So, we are reticketing sometimes right when people come into the Roosevelt, sometimes they get reticketed at their shelters. But other times when people come up to their 30 days, they have to go to a centralized place which makes it easier. We're running out of staff. We're running out of money. We're running out of space.

I just keep on saying the same thing over and over again. So, I appreciate your question, but I think that we need to focus on the bigger question is like why are we still dealing with this? Why are we still at 120,000 people 18 months later?

Deputy Mayor Levy: And DM Anne, I think it was important, what she just said… 

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: Thank you, Fabien.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Everything you say is important.

Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom: Thank you.

Deputy Mayor Levy: But respectfully, Craig, the premise of your question is wrong because she just said it, there's multiple places that we're doing reticketing, that… 

Question: [Inaudible] told yesterday by City Hall that it's only this location.

Deputy Mayor Levy: That's for people who are doing the… Coming back for the 30 or 60 days. But there's hundreds of people still coming every single day into the Roosevelt, so we're still doing reticketing there. So, there's multiple… 

Question: [Inaudible].

Deputy Mayor Levy: Fine. Ticketing.

Question: [Inaudible.]
Deputy Mayor Levy: No, no, it's all ticketing… 

Joseph Varlack: No, reticketing refers to the fact that many of them came here because they were bussed here from… 

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Exactly. Right.

Deputy Mayor Levy: So, they're all being ticketed by us for the first time. So, whether you... It's the same term whether it's at the Roosevelt or at the other place.

Question: [Inaudible].

Mayor Adams: Yea, but no, your question is an important one. And as Deputy Mayor Williams‑Isom is explaining, every new location of any sort that we open we have to staff, we have to pay for. That increases our dollar amount. What she has been hit with is the awesome responsibility of bringing down the cost of this operation because it's not financially sustainable.

And any time we say, okay, we're not going to have a line for someone, that means a new place, a new staffing, a new infrastructure, that's more money. And so we're not looking to spend more money, we're looking to bring down the cost of this.

And you know, it's unfortunate that we are in this circumstance that we're in and we don't want people waiting outside on lines. We don't want what you're seeing materialize in our city. This is what we're faced with.
Question: How are you doing?

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: I wanted to follow up on a question from earlier. Do you believe that the Adult Survivors Act, the ASA, has largely benefitted New Yorkers who have been victims of sexual assault even though you're now directly impacted by the filing? And do you think the look back should be extended for another year by the governor.

Mayor Adams: Listen, I believe in the law. I think it should be used and not abused. And when you look at this specific incident that impacts me, I stated over and over again, it's not who I am. Those of you who have covered me, those of you who know me, I'm a protector. I would not harm someone. I would not do something that is being alleged. That is not who I am as a person.

The law serves a purpose and role, and I am going to allow the process to take its place. I don't recall ever meeting this person, and I need to be clear on that. And so, you know, this is something that the process is going to take its place.

Lisa Zornberg, Chief Counsel to the Mayor and City Hall: Let me just add to that. Neither the mayor nor the city have been served with the summons that became public I think on the morning of Thanksgiving. No complaint has been filed. All we have is a bare, undetailed summons filed by a person who according to public records and in her own words is so litigious that she's written a book on how to file lawsuits, telling people to follow her lead because, quote, you just may win.

We know very little. We know that much from Google. But context matters. And when… If and when the city and the mayor are served, the city's Law Department is expected to defend the suit.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Good, thanks.

Two subjects. First just really generally speaking, are you still feeling optimistic that you personally will not be accused of any wrongdoing in relation to his FBI investigation? And then second, on the DMO list — or, so‑called DMO list — I heard you say and I heard the deputy mayor say that there's no such thing as a DMO list in your administration.

So, my question is, is it true that there is a different list, a different priority list, maybe it has a different name, that's been used by your administration to prioritize certain FDNY projects meaning that some get pushed up on the line and others get pushed back on the line? And is there anything wrong with that? Is that unfair if that's true, or is that just part of management? Just to clear this up.

Mayor Adams: Yes, I think that's a legitimate question. Your first question was that, you know… I sleep very well at night because I follow the rules. And you know, when you're dealing with the stresses of things like this, your conscience speaks for you. And I sleep well. You know, I'm very, I try to be as thorough as possible and I follow the rules.

Dealing with the lists, I'm going to turn it over to since it’s…

Deputy Mayor Joshi: So, you know, when asked the question I answer it both technically, no there is no DMO list, but I also answer it conceptually, no there is no DMO list by another name. What there is, is — and as Deputy Mayor Maria Torres‑Springer has pointed out — if you suffer from insomnia and you want to read an entire report that goes through 111 very bureaucratic but important recommendations about how to make the process simpler and more efficient for end users, it's called Get Stuff Built. We call it BLAST internally. And it is our approach to make this fair, equitable and also allow people to get stuff built, including the city, because we're users of the system as well.

Twenty percent of those recommendations have been completed. It's 111 in total. And we've seen marked increases in the time that it takes for the Fire Department to go through these plan reviews as well as the Department of Buildings.

Question: [Inaudible] executing that plan, does that mean that people at the senior level of the Fire Department or City Hall would be asking people in fire prevention to move certain projects up and other projects down in real time on an ongoing basis?

Deputy Mayor Joshi: That is not one of the recommendations in the report.

Lewis-Martin: Melissa, this is when we were in Borough Hall. We had a woman, this was a homeowner, and she was about to lose her house because she needed to have a specific inspection. And this was done doing Covid, and she e‑mailed me and I had to outreach to various departments in order to get her help.

So, if someone has a pressing issue where they're about to lose their home or lose their business, then we may say, can you look at this and see if it's possible to assist them. The lady was literally about to lose her home for real for real, and we were able to assist her, and we are proud of that. We never say move somebody down. But if someone has a real particular issue of importance and they're about to lose their business or their home, we will ask can you look at this and see if it's possible to assist them?

And that's just being human, and we would do that for anyone. And it's our job to do that, and we would be derelict in our responsibilities if we didn't.

Deputy Mayor Levy: And just to the point that Meera was just making., you can go see it yourself. You don't have to be as boring as...

Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer:  It's not at all boring… It's really fascinating and very rigorous.

Mayor Adams: Hold, let Melissa… Go ahead, Melissa.

Question: Can you just address the issue of whether you would support the idea of an ongoing dialogue between higher ups either at City Hall and/or the top levels of FDNY to be speaking to chiefs and asking them to prioritize certain projects?  Because we, you know, we understand that some of the chiefs at least, they may have an axe to grind, they may not be objective, but they're claiming, some of them have, that they were pressured to, you know, move certain pet projects up on the list.

Mayor Adams: So, I think the term "pet projects…" This city is not stagnant, this city is ever evolving and getting a project up and running could mean the difference between thousands of people being employed, it can mean the difference of having access to a healthcare facility. It could mean just so many different. Look at some of the projects that we announced from the Willets Point project through the Innovation QNS project.

And so we have to take the totality of the entire city. And one agency of any agency, no matter what it is, cannot make the determination of the city‑wide mission. And that is what has happened in government. You will have an agency that makes the determination what the citywide mission is, and that's not how this administration operates. We all come together and say the actions we do, how does it impact the entire city?

And so I enjoy sitting down with all of my leaders from all of my agencies. There's no one in any agency that states we reached out to the mayor to give them ideas, to speak with him, and he said no to that. That is just not true if someone is saying that.
Question: Mr. Mayor, was the city comptroller, did he invite you on this trip? Did you consider going with him? And then you also mentioned a resettlement working group. What exactly does that entail? Is that involved with the state? Is that just a city thing? Who's involved in that?

Mayor Adams: The comptroller reached out to the office to find out what are some of the things that we're asking for. And this was, he was going down, I think he was going down for some type of labor conference or something that was happening and he used that as an opportunity to push this number one issue that's facing our city. Who wants to talk about the working group?

Joseph Varlack: Sure, I can take it. So, the resettlement group is led by the interim acting director of the Office of Asylum Seekers, Molly Schaeffer. And in addition to that, it's a cross-sectional group of folks from multiple agencies and teams across the administration and it pulls together the work that we are already, we've been doing actually for months with nonprofits, with other organizations that do resettlement including our conversations with other cities and states as well.

Question: How does that differ from the one that's already going on with the state?

Joseph Varlack: What is going on with the state?

Question: The state has its own resettlement program that they're working on and they've had funding… 

Varlack: The MRAP program? The MRAP program?
Question: Yes.

Varlack: Sure. I mean, it's a separate program. That's a very specific program that the state is administering. What we're talking about is broader than New York State, it's looking at the entire country since this is a national crisis.

Question: [Inaudible] have people from other states involved in this working group?

Varlack: They're not officially on the working group but this working group is discussing the conversations that we continue to have and have been having over the past several months with other states about resettlement, about all the issues as it relates to the asylum seeker crisis. It pulls all those work streams together.

Question: Okay. Hi.

Mayor Adams: Nice surprise.

Question: [Inaudible] newspaper. How are you making sure that the city is prepared for Islamophobic attacks on Arabs and Muslims especially after the news of [inaudible] three Palestinian students in Vermont for simply wearing Palestinian scarf and talking Arabic in public.

Mayor Adams: I think the issue that took place in Vermont was despicable, to have three Palestinians who were shot. I believe I read today that they apprehended the potential suspect. I'm glad that happened. And we are extremely clear. Commissioner Caban and his team, we are clear. There's no room for hate in our city. Not only are we going to make the apprehensions, but the district attorneys have made it clear they're going to prosecute to the full extent of the law.

To have someone assaulted, to have your property defaced or any other hateful act merely because of your race, your religion, your gender, is unacceptable. And New York has led the way with the level of diversity we have in this city that hate has no place, and we're going to apprehend and prosecute to the full extent of the law.


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