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Transcript: Mayor Eric Adams Appears Live on PIX 11's "PIX on Politics"

December 18, 2022

Dan Mannarino: Good morning everybody, and welcome to PIX on Politics. We have a special episode for you today. I'm Dan Mannarino and I'm going one-on-one with Mayor Eric Adams for the entire half hour, as his first year as mayor comes to an end. And Mr. Mayor joining me now, right now. So welcome back to PIX on Politics. Good to see you, sir.

Mayor Eric Adams: Hey Dan, how are you? Good seeing you as well.

Mannarino: All right. Busy first year, right? So first off, Mr. Mayor, let's talk about this. How different, it's a loaded question, is New York City today, than it was a year ago when you were handed the keys?

Mayor Adams: Well, I think that many of us can answer the question how different. Think about what I inherited on January 1st, 2022, we had a COVID crisis uncertainty if our schools were going to be open or not, if our city would be open. We were spiking, we were dealing with a surge in crime. We had the loss of two of our officers, officer Rivera and Mauras. Shortly into the year, we saw a devastating fire that really impacted our city.

We saw a transit system where innocent people were being shoved on the track and violent crimes, encampments everywhere. This was a city that I inherited that we were dealing with many crises from Monkeypox to COVID, and we had to respond accordingly. And so let's look at today. What are we facing?

We managed COVID, got it under control, and we're moving to clean opening the asylum seeker problem, that was really at a crisis level. We brought it under control, Monkeypox brought it under control. We're saying something that was important to me, crime. We seen a double digit decrease in shootings and in homicides. So you're seeing a city that's not coming back. New York City is back.

Mannarino: All right. So you just touched upon a lot of the issues that we're going to get into, the high points, the low points. So let's talk about some of these issues that you just laid out and crime being the first one, sir. So the latest stats out in late November. So overall crime, slightly down, shootings, down 33 percent. In the past month, transit crime even trended downwards by about 13 percent. A lot of people were worried about that specific issue of transit crime. So what do you attribute these decreased rates to, and how do you plan to continue that in 2023?

Mayor Adams: Oh, one name, Keechant Sewell, the police commissioner and her team. These officers were dealing with low morale, uncertainty of if they carry out their function, would we be with them? And I made it clear, I'm not going to send my police officers, all correction officers, all first responders into the line of fire and then abandon them. I'm a General and I'm going to lead them in the front, and we are going to make sure they get the support they need. If things go wrong, we're going to hold them accountable, but we know they were going to do a good job and we are going to continue those initiatives.

Mannarino: Okay. So there's still this perception of, that crime may be an issue. Midterm elections, especially with the governor's race, but crime rates in New York City front and center. Many New Yorkers that we put out on social media continuing to say they still feel like it's an issue. You've said that you believe Democrats have a messaging problem when it comes to this very topic. So how do you change the perception of crime as a whole?

Mayor Adams: Well, it is clear. There's a combination of things that are making New Yorkers not see some of the results that are happening. I came in with the mission of dealing with the gun violence. We removed close to 7,000 guns off our street, of which 4,400 people have been arrested for guns. That is the highest in a 27-year history. And so we know there will be a while before people go from with what they felt to how they feel, and we're going to continue to drive down crime and make sure the city is a safe city for all.

Mannarino: So when it comes to this issue with the Democrats, what do you feel Democrats need to do a better job at when it comes to messaging, to maybe push back on the Republicans who say that they are actually ones who are tough on crime and the Democrats aren't?

Mayor Adams: Well, clearly they have a good product. It's the Democrats that are in favor of funding police departments to have the resources they need. We allowed a numerical minority that had a soundbite of defunding police. That is not the narrative of the overwhelming number of Democrats. Republicans voted against the sensible laws for gun reforms.

It was Republicans that did not support the funding for our police or agencies. We've allowed them to use the tricking mirror of saying that they are pro-public safety, when in fact they're to the contrary, they are holding back some of the gun reforms that's dealing with many of the mass shootings that we're seeing, and the over proliferation of guns on our streets throughout the entire country.

Mannarino: And you've suggested, and this has been talked about a lot, this topic of bail reform, specifically was a major reason for Democratic losses. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives are actually refuting what you said. So do you believe there needs to be still, changes to the state's bail laws and it hasn't happened yet? So you're prepared to once again go to Albany and say lobby for it if you do believe so.

Mayor Adams: Well, I think that one of the most misunderstood conversation is how we're holding onto the symbol of one term bail reform. I've stated this over and over again. There are many rivers that feed into the sea of violence. We need to dam each one. It's not just bail reform. We have a problem with recidivism in this city, if not this country. The catch, release, repeat system is my focus. A small number of people, close to 1,600, are repeated offenders and they've made up their mind that they're going to be violent in the city. Many of them have been arrested four or more times, and while they're out on bail or outweighing sentencing, they're carrying guns and committing more crime. That's my focus, and I'm going to continue to partner with the governor in accomplishing that.

Mannarino: I understand that, and I appreciate you. You're giving specifics about the issue of bail reform, but this is so front and center for people who say that it needs to change. So listening to what you're saying about the totality of it all, and there's many rivers, but when it comes to bail reform as a whole, do you leave the law the way it is or are there tweaks?

Mayor Adams: Dan, the greatest level of discipline is not to fall into the sounds of the noise. I said it once and I'm going to continue to say it until it resonates. This is not about just bail. This is discovery. This is the number of cases where they're not being prosecuted. This is the number of people who are coming in and getting out. This is the number of people who are in jail that are dealing with mental health illnesses and being placed back on the street. I'm not going to allow us to take this important issue and just put it on one place. That's not going to happen. We need to fix the criminal justice system and the recidivism of dangerous people.

Mannarino: And you see eye to eye with the governor on that very issue?

Mayor Adams: Oh, without a doubt. Every conversation she stated, "Eric, we have to go after those recidivists that are repeatedly committing crimes. You have people who have committed four felonies or more in our city, dangerous felonies that are repeatedly being placed on our streets. That's unacceptable."

Mannarino: Understood. All right, Mr. Mayor, you're sticking around, because we have a lot more to talk about. The recently announced plan to combat the mental health crisis continues to face criticism. And just this past week, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg releasing his own plan, including an approach that differs from the mayor. We're going to talk about it when we come back in two minutes. Stay with us.

Welcome back to Pix on Politics everybody. We are once again joined with Mayor Eric Adams, to continue our conversation of his first year in office. Mr. Mayor, let's talk about one of the big initiatives you announced just recently. You and I have discussed this, but there's still more to talk about, with the mental health plan. It includes hospitalizing New Yorkers, for those who don't know, with a severe mental illness. Who makes the call, and I know we've talked about this, but I want to go over it again, that someone needs to be hospitalized? What's the criteria to make that call?

Mayor Adams: First, there's a level of clarity that's needed for everyday New Yorkers, as well as the clarity we wanted to give our first line responders to this issue. The call we put in place is to give them the clarity that if a person cannot take care of their basic needs to the extent that they are in danger to themselves or others. Not every New Yorker that's dealing with a mental health illness is going to be brought inside a hospital for evaluation. We need to get that clear, because people keep saying that, and that is just untrue.

Mannarino: Right.

Mayor Adams: This whole issue is being led by mental health professionals, not police officers. Police officers are part of the partnership. First line responders, based on the training that we are giving them, would do an evaluation to determine if a person needs to go to a medical facility. A professional psychiatrist, psychologist, whomever is there on that capacity, will make the determination if they have to go for long-term stay, or if they have to deal with the crises that they're facing now.

Mannarino: You've said this to me before, that we're not leading with police. They're not leading the charge, you just reiterated it. Who is then tasked with the transport of taking someone to the hospital?

Mayor Adams: EMS, FDNY, if it's an emergency situation that a person is doing something extremely dangerous, the police can play a role. It's about the combination, and that's the uniqueness of this situation. That's why we invested in B-HEARD, to use first responders other than police to address this issue, and we are proud of that. Anyone who's stated to allow the status quo to stay in place is unacceptable. We cannot allow people in an inhumane way live on our streets, ignore them, and act like it doesn't exist. I'm not going to do that as the mayor.

Mannarino: Lawyers for City Hall said that no one's actually been taken in just yet. When do you anticipate that happening?

Mayor Adams: We're going to get it right. It's about proper training, proper evaluation and putting in the proper infrastructure. Remember, we have been doing this already, but after the evolution of the program of removing encampments, of engaging with people in the streets, we notice while being out on the ground that many of our first responders had a lack of clarity on what they can do. When I'm in the subway system, and I see someone clearly cannot take care of their basic needs, talking and yelling to themselves, waiting for the spaceship to come and take them back to Mars, that's a problem. Once we saw that there was a lack of clarity, we want to re-instruct the team after our evaluation, so we can go out and do a good job.

Mannarino: Understood. The Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, came out with his own plan, and I'm not sure if you saw it, which says is a bit separate from yours, and is more voluntary to get people to treatment. I don't know if you saw it, but if you did, do you agree or disagree?

Mayor Adams: Kudos, I'm loving where we are right now. Here it is, we took a bold step to say we are no longer going to ignore our fellow New Yorkers, and now, the chorus is joining us. He's complementing our plan, like what Norman Siegel is doing with volunteers, and other New Yorkers are doing. This is an amazing moment for our city. We took a bold step, refused to punt the ball, and you are seeing other entities saying, "How do we step up?" Kudos to Alvin Bragg, and we're going to coordinate with him. It's a complement to our plan.

Mannarino: Okay. You talked about this at the top, one of the big issues that you faced as mayor was this influx of migrants coming from the southern border, bused here by local leaders in those southern states. It came as a huge financial strain to the city. You're now looking to get that federal support, you've talked about this, reportedly a billion dollars from the federal government. Are you confident that you're going to get that money? Have you had a conversation with the President?

Mayor Adams: It's unfair if we don't. We are communicating with the White House regularly. We have to be honest about this. It's unfair to everyday New Yorkers who are already dealing with their crises. We're already dealing with the housing crisis, we're dealing with so many crises. It is unfair to New Yorkers to carry this burden on their own. This is a national problem, and the national government and the state must stand up. We've done our share, and we've done it well. We've showed the country how to be compassionate to those who are asylum seekers, and migrants, but it's unfair to New Yorkers to have this price tag. We're looking forward to the legislation that's moving through the Congress now, to come up with the funding that's needed. Kudos to both Congressman Jeffries and Senator Schumer, who are advocating with the rest of the New York delegation.

Mannarino: Mr. Mayor, I want to talk about the situation that's unfolding also at Rikers Island. It's been going on long before you took office, but in this past year, 19 inmates have died. Why does this continue to happen, and who should be held accountable when you see this number?

Mayor Adams: Let's really dig into the number. Many of the inmates that are on Rikers Island are dealing with severe healthcare issues. We're dealing with a population, a number are dealing with mental health illnesses, a number are dealing with other illnesses, diabetes, heart disease. Then, you have the heavy flow of drugs. That is why Commissioner Molina is really zeroing in on stopping drugs such as fentanyl from coming into the system. It's coming in through various means, and he's putting in place initiatives to prevent it from happening.

When you look at 19 inmates, drill into the number. If it was 19 inmates being murdered, that's a different conversation. If you are dealing with 19 inmates that are dealing with mental health issues, dealing with physical health issues, and overdoses, that's a totally different conversation. We have to stop the drugs, but we cannot ignore the fact that some of our inmates that we lost were dealing with medical crises at the same time.

Mannarino: Briefly, because you mentioned Commissioner Molina, he actually appeared before the City Council's Committee on Criminal Justice last week, talking about how he was unsure if the city will actually be able to close Rikers Island by the year 2027, because of the population being so high. Your thoughts on this, is Rikers set to close?

Mayor Adams: The goal is to follow the law, but we're not going to be irresponsible. It's clear that the architects of this desire to close Rikers did not have a plan B. What do we do if the prison population is not the population that was predicted? I am not going to participate in being irresponsible. You cannot say, if someone commits a crime, that we have no vacancies to put you inside for committing that violent crime. I think we need to evaluate where we are, and do we have enough space on the proposed beds? Some state, "Just don't have people going to jail." I'm sorry, I don't subscribe to that theory for violent individuals in the city. We don't need to put people in jail who commit petty crimes, they could have alternative means, but if we have violent individuals, they need to be held accountable, and we must make sure that plan can fit that.

Mannarino: All right, that was this past year on the issues. We still have a little more time with you Mr. Mayor, so coming up, where he sees things in the next three years, looking ahead. We'll be right back, stay with us.

Welcome back. Well, we are joined once again by Mayor Eric Adams. Let me just say, I appreciate your time, sir, but I know you're all about the future and looking ahead as well, getting New York back on track, a big part of your mission. And last week you and the governor announced this Making New York Work for Everyone Plan, which was put together by this panel appointed in May, and you called this roadmap for the future with the idea of getting people back to work. But there is this thing of hybrid work, remote work, that's still looming out there. Do you support hybrid models moving forward?

Mayor Adams: Well, I don't think it's up to me. I think that the industries are going to settle on what they believe is the best way to move forward. I want us to keep in mind several points about a hybrid work. Number one, we cannot have a due employee population where those who have to do their jobs in an office or in a work environment cannot be treated differently and unfairly and it cannot be divided among economics and ethnic lines. That we have to be very important.

And then we have to look at those industries that are impacted by foot traffic. And that's what the report did, it looked at those entire industries. And then something that many people are missing, they're missing the relationship between the governor and the mayor. Everyone talks about it, of the mere fact that we are partners in improving our city and state is really a move away from the historical tensions between governors and mayors.

Mannarino: You're saying that some people are missing the point. Which brings me to this next topic, and that is your relationship with the press. Because at last week's press conference with Governor Hochul, you made this comment about the New York City media, saying it covers the worst part of your day and highlights it over and over again. I've known you for a long time, sir, I've covered you for a long time. We've had very honest conversations. How do you characterize, one year into this office, your relationship with the media?

Mayor Adams: Listen, the role of the media is so important. You should hold us accountable. But if New Yorkers are in a recovery state and all we highlight is the scar on our face, as I always state, and not our face... We have so many victories. 56 million tourists are coming to the city. We cycle out of COVID, cycle out of monkey pots, decrease in crime. If you start the day every day of saying, here's the worst parts about our city, and not balance it with, here the victories we are having in the city, it just sends the wrong message to everyday New Yorkers.

Part of the recovery is not only physical, it's also mental. New York is back and we need to start highlighting the success. And the press plays a role in doing that.

Mannarino: I mean, in fairness, do you feel that we are not doing that? I mean, I feel like we are, here at PIX 11, covering the totality of what's happening in the city, but my job is to ask the tough questions at the same time.

Mayor Adams: Yes, and we welcome that. We need to be very careful. Because we point out the behavior of some people in an industry, it's not a broad brush of the entire industry. Many people point out, here are the problems, and we do it in a healthy way. If the press points out what I can do better, isn't it only fair that I point out what the industry can do better? We're in this together, because you are concerned about safe subways, you are concerned about the economy coming back. Although you are in the press industry, you know what you still are? You still are Team New York. You're part of us coming back.

Mannarino: I mean, I still have a daughter that's going to be walking around the streets of New York soon. Very soon. Mr. Mayor, let's talk about the future. Top priority for 2023 on January 2nd or January 1st. Is there anything you plan to do differently?

Mayor Adams: Yes, we're going to be rolling out a clear plan in our State of the City announcement. But clearly we want to drive down crime more. This must be a safe city, it's the prerequisite to prosperity. We must deal with the housing issue. We're looking to really introduce technology, and dealing with the efficiencies of building and developing our housing stock.

We want to attract more businesses here to the city and become the center of life science, cybersecurity, and other forms of investment in the city. So our goal is to make sure the foundation is safety, and built on that foundation an economic growth that we expect in the city.

Mannarino: You know me, I'm always looking to make news. I got 10 seconds left. I know you're in this office, but a lot of rumors of higher office. Is that your future?

Mayor Adams: My future is turning around this city.

Mannarino: I knew you were going to say this.

Mayor Adams: I love the job of being mayor, and everyone knows it. I love impacting the lives of New Yorkers. It means so much to me, because I'm a New Yorker.

Mannarino: Mr. Mayor, appreciate you being our main guest today. Happy holidays to you.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. Take care.


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