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Transcript: Mayor Eric Adams Briefs Media on Trip to Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic

September 27, 2022

Pastor Gilford Monrose, Faith Advisor, Office of the Mayor: Good morning to everyone. I am Pastor Gilman Rose. I am the faith advisor in the Office of the Mayor and the executive director of the Office of Faith Based and Community Partnerships of New York City, and one of the delegates who are in Puerto Rico and also the Dominican Republic over the weekend. I have been through not one, not two, not three, not four, but five hurricanes, being raised up in the U.S. Virgin Islands. And so these areas of concern for us, of course, is one area of compassion that we feel as faith leaders.

And for New York City to bring to bear not only local government and government officials, but also the faith community. I want to, before we begin, to just make reference and acknowledge our faith community partners who are here with us today: Peter Gudaitis from NYDIS, New York Disaster Interfaith Services; the Islamic Relief USA; LACA with Bishop Rodriguez, who is actually in Puerto Rico today; and the United Methodist Committee on Relief who will be traveling next week to Puerto Rico and to the Dominican Republic. This morning I'd like to start by having Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol come forward and make some remarks. Thank you.

Commissioner Zachary Iscol, NYC Emergency Management: Thank you, pastor. Good morning, sir. How are you?

Pastor Monrose: All right. Good to see you.

Commissioner Iscol: Good to see you too, sir. Good morning. New York City Management is proud to join our mayor along with elected officials and members of the administration in support of Puerto Rico. Five years ago, during Hurricane Maria, 64 people died during the storm. In the aftermath, an estimated 3,000 people lost their lives. So I just want to sort of be clear that this phase of operations, from response to recovery, can be far more dangerous, especially for the elderly and for the most vulnerable. I'd also like to applaud the government of Puerto Rico, the local municipalities, and our federal partners for their work. The territory, along with the National Guard, local municipalities, conducted over 400 rescues. 67 percent of power has been restored, and 80 percent have access to potable water, but we're not out of the woods yet.

Our city has strong ties to the people of Puerto Rico and we're proud to assist them in their time of need. We're also very aware of the devastation Hurricane Fiona has brought to other parts of the Caribbean, including the Dominican Republic, and more must be done to assist in their recovering. If you'd like to donate, please go to for a list of trusted organizations that are assisting throughout Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the larger Caribbean. As we speak today, staff from various city agencies, including New York City Emergency Management, the Department of Buildings, New York City Parks, and Department of Design and Construction are on the ground assessing damage to infrastructure and essential services caused by heavy rains, flood, and wind.

Since arriving, the team has visited over 10 cities, including the city of Humacao yesterday, where I was able to join them on their tour. This city has experienced devastating landslides caused by Hurricane Fiona. Many of the roads were severely damaged, impassable, making it difficult to restore power, and especially to rural communities in the mountains that are now without power or electricity. Those communities are really suffering and are in need. And so while progress is being made, there is still a lot more work to be done. Rebuilding is daunting. We can never do enough to invest in the mitigation to help prevent these catastrophes from occurring in the future. And so we are very proud to be standing aside so many other agencies, governments, and our private sector partners. Thank you.

(SOMOS Community Care Executive Vice President Alexandro Damiron, U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat, City Council Members Marjorie Velázquez, Rafael Salamanaca, and Amanda Farías, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, State Senators Oswald Feliz and Robert Jackson, State Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams speak.)

Mayor Eric Adams: Oh man. When I got the call from some of my electeds talking about what was happening in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, and these are some of the same electeds that are on the frontline of some of the other crises and tragedies that are playing out on the stage of New York City and New York State. We are wounded healers. We are wounded healers. It's easy to look at your wounds and state, why am I going to help my brother? The wounds we have here, from COVID to the asylum seekers to violence to housing to educational crises to our own climate change to challenging... Even the day we were away, we were hit with heavy rainfalls.

But there's something unique about New York City. When others go through their moments of uncertainties, we have the ability to know that as wounded healers, we must deal with our wounds, but also help those across the globe. We have so much abundance here. And if you don't believe we do, then you really need to go in the frontline and see the makeshift housing that people are living through without electricity that gives away to lack of running water. Just being able to put a few drops of Clorox in water to keep the mosquitoes away.

And I think it was just profound, as I was stating to the assemblywoman, one house we went into that was flooded with 14 feet of water, there was a husband that was taking care of his wife who was connected to a generator that if that generator would have gone off, she would have lost all of her medical equipment and she would have lost her life in the process. These are real issues and real challenges and taking the trip there on the behest of our elected officials who stated that their constituencies were concerned about what was happening here.

Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, like other countries have a significant population that's here and that are concerned. When something plays out on the streets of a country outside of here, it plays out on the streets of New York. We have the largest Dominican population in any other city in this country. We have the largest Puerto Rican, our neighbors, our fellow Americans, sometimes people just forget that, is right here. And to be able to be joined with Councilwoman Velázquez, watching her auntie there at the site embrace her and see her niece that's now an elected official coming to the country back to be there with her was just profound.

It was profound to experience. It was profound to sit down with the president in the Dominican Republic with the first Dominican congressman, Congressman Espaillat, to be there and sit down late at night and talk with him about the needs, the basic needs of just getting the electricity back on. Looking at… we discard fire trucks. They're saying, you're finished with them, can we utilize them? Ambulance. So they're things that we are going to continue to do and I want to thank Zach and his team that went there at the conclusion.

I believe they were on the ground while there were still raindrops and moving forward to giving the expertise, the knowhow, the energy that his team brought to Puerto Rico to give the assistance that was needed. So yes, we hit the ground here. When we returned, we had a full day. My team realized what it is working with the mayor that I think the Daily News reported I have not had one day off. I just realized that. So they know what it is to hit the ground and go from sunup to sundown and then get on the flight and go the next day. And we hit the ground.

We hit the ground yesterday and Congressman Espaillat went to assist in raising money. I went to a few of my cultural events and I was in the hospital yesterday with an officer who was in a car crash that we thought we were going to lose him. Thank God. Let's pray for him today as he's recovering and going to Booth Memorial Hospital yesterday to respond that. So we're going to do what we have to do. While we deal with the domestic crises that we are having, we're going to show the humanitarian action of what it is to be a New Yorker.

This is the international city. This is America's city. If people like it or not, this is America's city. What we do is going to impact what happens across the globe and how people are going to perceive us across the globe. The borough president was right. When I walked with that polo shirt, mayor on the back of it and went in those different locations, you should have looked at the faces of people that this city was saying to people that they matter. That means so much to people outside of this country and those who are a part of our locations throughout the globe.

And we sometimes take that for granted. We have a brand. New York has a brand. And when people see it, it means something. When we go there, it's not... Kansas doesn't have a brand. (Laughter.) When you go there, okay, you're from Kansas. No. You know what? But New York has a brand. It has a brand and that brand means diversity. That brand means we care. That brand means that we are compassionate. And that's what we did. So we have work to do here. We have work to do to ensure, as the councilman stated, that we fulfill some of the commitments and obligations that we get in Puerto Rico helping FEMA expedite the money.

We went to one woman's home that was destroyed three times. She had wet papers of applications of how she tried to communicate with FEMA in the backyard. You saw the destruction of one of her homes. And so we are going to help folks navigate FEMA and get the resources that they deserve. Sitting down with the mayors, sitting down with the senators. We met with all the senators that were in the areas that were impacted. We met with a group of the mayors there, and as I stated, we met with the president as well. And so this was a great use of our time on how do we show the humanitarian aspect of being a New Yorker. And I cannot say it enough of SOMOS. SOMOS during COVID, during COVID, when people were not dealing with issues on the ground... I joined SOMOS at Sunset Park where they were on the ground with full hazmat suits on and applying and giving people the medicine that they needed, those early processes that were taking place. And so we met SOMOS in Sunset Park and we met them in sunny Dominican Republic all over the Caribbean and Latino speaking countries, they were there as they have done so here in our city as well.

And so I want to thank the entire delegation and team, our religious leaders, our elected officials, our partners, our CBOs of coming together saying that we were going to help the people of Dominican Republic and then the people of Puerto Rico. And so if there's any questions on that specific issue, we will answer them. If anything that our NYCEM commissioner can answer, he will do so as well. And then we'll do a few off-topics, because I haven't been around a while, and I really at the bottom of my heart, I just especially miss you guys. But before we do that, felicidades to our congressman. Happy birthday to you. (Laughter.) So let's do a few questions.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Mayor Adams: It was interesting, and congressman, you could respond also. The electricity. This electricity issue has been real lingering out there and what I learned, which was extremely important, was that absent the electricity, you can't get water because the water's pumped up into the high areas of... And generators don't last forever. They have a running life. And so it's important that we get there and help with the grid and get the electricity that's needed. That is probably the number one thing I heard and congressman, if you want to…

U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat: Electricity is a problem in the entire region. The electrical grid in Puerto Rico is very fragile, is spotty in the Dominican Republic, and some other places like Haiti and Cuba, it's just really bad. So the Caribbean needs a stronger grid to provide hopefully renewable... They have sun every day and it should be built in that direction. Now, the DR got hit mainly by heavy winds. Puerto Rico was mainly flooding, big flooding, as the mayor says, as a result of the electricity being gone, there's a lack of water. You could live without light but you can't live without water. Okay, so that's critical.

Question: Yes. We talk about what's going to be done next. We can't just have this be we're down there and the cameras are there and once we leave, what's going to happen. We heard that there are still crew members from the Office of Emergency Management there. So what are the next steps?

Mayor Adams: Well, I think that number one, we have to put our heads together to deal with the grid issue. Going back to the electricity — of not having electricity, hospitals can't operate, people are not getting clean water, just tied to that grid is so much and we must focus on that issue in the real way, but what the commissioner’s team is doing is, number one, having access to FEMA, helping fill out the documentation. FEMA, there was a different FEMA under this administration then a previous administration. Everyone told us that on the ground. The FEMA has been extremely responsive, a real partner. They were not getting that under the previous administration, hats off to Biden and his team because FEMA was very much there. And then there's some items that they listed such as it was mentioned, generators, getting something simple as Clorox, we're finding. So a bleach and other items, our team that's on the ground with Pastor Melrose, they have been handing out food and immediate supply items that's there while they're there, there's still there.

We still have Pastor Cabrera that's there doing that. But I think the most important thing is to get access to the resources that are available and some of the other items that they listed such as those things that have run through their working life here that we normally discard they can use them there.

Question: I wanted to ask yourself and others really to the degree that you guys have extended the visit, the delegation has gone down, you've amassed this level of attention and visibility. To what degree have you engaged the state or has the state engaged you in a similar fashion to offer the same kind of visibility and relief to residents?

Mayor Adams: New York State, you're talking about, yes? I know the governor is sending down a delegation of Spanish-speaking law enforcement officers. She reached out to us and the governor, we have been in constant contact. She was going to attempt to join us on this trip. Her schedule didn't allow but she's very much engaged with our FEMA, I mean with our NYCEM and so she has been very much engaged and actually later today I’m going to reach out and brief her on the trip but she's been very much engaged. Those specific items I think the governor's office could communicate and let you know.

Question: Thank you. Mr. Mayor, as a Dominican, I mentioned something about the USA aid, but in your office, besides in addition to ambulances and other things that you can do to help, what plans were you able to make or to start conversation about helping the Dominican Republic as an ally? We know it's not a territory of the United States.

Mayor Adams: Yeah and I don't know if you want to touch on a congressman, number one, around me I have my leadership. You see many Dominicans who keep the concerns of what's happening in Dominican Republic important. Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez and I, immediately after the election, we flew to the Dominican Republic. As I stated when I was campaigning and I stated that we’re going to continue to come whenever there's a time of need. I think it's imperative to speak with people on the ground specifically ask how do we help within our scope of abilities to help. It's not up to me to dictate to countries on what I'm going to do, it's up to me to ask them what do you need, how do I help as a city? And that's why we met with the president. That's why we met with the senators. That's why we met with the mayors.

They gave us our specific marching orders on what they need from us and that's what we are going to carry out and fulfill. So it's not up to me to go to those. These are countries. Dominican Republic is a country and it's up to me to say to the president of that country who I think is brilliant on what he's doing and there's going to be a different Dominican Republic after his terms in office on what's needed. He says, "Eric, we would like to have a better relationship with your law enforcement community." He's revamping his police department and dealing with some of the corruption issues that he faced and we are going to make sure Commissioner Sewell is connected to his leadership so that he can get the input that he needs.

He started his own version of CompStat. I was blown away when he gave me his CompStat version, something that was born here. Our experts are going to go and assist him in building out his CompStat. And so he has given us some specific items that he would help with, and we're going to be guided by his administration on how we could be helpful in the process.

Question: What are the specific commitments regarding the storm response the city has made to Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, other islands that have been affected? Like what specifically… services or materials are provided?

Mayor Adams: So they gave us a list of items — and Zach you could respond to this also — gave us a list of items that I heard, one, they needed medicine. As the congressman stated because after the storm, because of the hygiene issues of water and other things, diseases come into effect. And so the president reached out and the president stated that hey, we need medicine. And Congressman Espaillat was immediately able to navigate and get that done and he could touch on that. But that is why I keep saying we must ask specifically from the people on the ground. Far too often, we just start collecting things and they're not what people want or need. So we spoke directly to the leadership and say, what do you need? Second, generators. We're going to try to coordinate to see how we could change like Home Depots and others, our Lowe's and see if we can get a good price for the generators. They're now paying approximately $1,400 per generator, that is just out of the course of some of the people who were there, experts on the ground. So the laundry list that they gave us, we're going through of those items, old equipment from our city after a certain number of years, you can no longer or you should no longer use some of the equipment that we have. And they're saying we still can use that equipment. It may be old to us but it's new to them and we're looking at the list that they give us and we take it from there. You want to talk about that?

Commissioner Iscol: Thank you, sir. So a lot of the work that our team is doing, we have a remarkable relationship as the mayor said with FEMA nowadays, my predecessor Andy D'Amora is now the number two for the region. My other predecessor, Deanne Criswell is the administrator for FEMA. And so a lot of the work that we're doing with municipalities is doing assessments, understanding needs, whether it's for individual assistance or whether it's for generators, for heavy construction equipment, whether it's for fast-tracking certain mitigation efforts that have taken place or projects that have taken place to protect certain communities and neighborhoods. And then working with FEMA to make sure that those mets are being identified and then met.

Representative Espaillat: The president of the DR gave us the list of medicine, and that medicine will be distributed to the local public pharmacy in the provinces hit by the storm. Hopefully that will go out tomorrow. Also, the Civil Defence, which is a group of volunteers, they have a list of needs, small boats to rescue people during flooding with motors, goggles, other types of equipment. And, of course, in Puerto Rico, the generators are very much… Also, wood and sink roofs to... As simple as that, that's what SOMOS was doing. I saw a photo from Damiron that light last night almost in the middle of the darkness, there were still building roofs in the DR, SOMOS. And so this had the fundamental needs that they have. I'd done this before and people send snow boots and coats. That's not what they need over there. In many ways, that creates a roadblock to getting... We have (inaudible). After this press conference, if you walk down the street to 809 restaurant, by the way, 809 is the area code for the Dominican Republic. He's been there. He's going to be there for two weeks collecting canned foods, and he's got a whole operation going on just three blocks from here. And so this is what it's all about.


Question: Hello, Mayor. This is for La Mega, and we would like to know if we have the right location to deliver those supplies to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico for the people going to get it easy.

Mayor Adams: The right location to deliver them. Okay, when we finish, Congressman Espaillat, or Ivette, or whomever, we have a specific location we want to deliver to. Let's connect to get the specific location because they have different efforts that are taking place and so let's make sure that it's funneled to one location, okay? Love your radio show, man.

Question: Mayor, here. In terms of the situation at Ocean Beach, I know the borough president is concerned about how this could affect space in that area. Is this a long-term, mid-term solution? How do you see it with this operation going on the beach?

Mayor Adams: Yeah, and I take my hat off to Borough President Gibson. She raised her concern about the flood-prone area, but at the same time, she just acknowledged, "Hey, Eric is dealing with a crisis. Our city's dealing with a humanitarian crises." And I think that we really don't sometimes understand that this is a humanitarian refugee crisis. And so we looked at 50 locations and found the best location. We are going to open more sites. And this is not long-term. Let's be clear. This is not something that's going to be done long-term. This is not a shelter issue. This is a humanitarian refugee, migrant crisis, humanitarian crisis. And so we're going to pivot and shift as the need is. I believe we got six buses yesterday that we had to address. And so we want to make sure that we bring people into a safe, clean environment as we process them for a few days to figure out their needs and move them to the right location.

And to those who are saying it's inhumane to use tents, I'm like, what are people talking about? There was a tent in Central Park during COVID. Did people forget I was on the ground in COVID? I know that we had a boat, we had a hospital boat that was utilized, other locations was utilized. This is a humane way. We are doing what no other local is doing, giving people the services they need.

So this is not inhumane. This is… New York is stepping up, meeting the crisis, responding appropriately. And so this is not a long-term fix. We're going to do it as we handle the influx. We're hoping that the national government deals with the decompression strategy that's needed. We are hoping that others will step up like New York is doing. And so this is to deal with the humanitarian crisis that we are facing. I thank Vanessa Gibson, the borough president, for understanding that these are real challenging times.

Question: Yeah. Mr. Mayor. Just to follow up on that, I've seen the flooding there and there are big swaths that are flooding. So are you building into these tent structures something to mitigate that flooding or drainage or something like that?

Mayor Adams: We have an excellent NYCEM that we gauge when storms are coming and if the need is to... As in any area, we believe that there's a threat of storms. We're going to move people to a safer location, but as the commissioner and his crew are factoring all of this, all this is part of our conversation. Commissioner, you want to touch on it?

Commissioner Iscol: Sure. Thank you for your question. The mayor's made clear that we're going to appeal to our better angels here and that the safety and security of this population is paramount. There are two types of flooding events that we are concerned about in any flood zone. Number one is from a coastal storm. Should a coastal storm come, we would evacuate people as we would any other zone. In a zone one, we have to evacuate about 500,000 people. So they would go into the shelter system, the storm shelter system, just like anybody else who is evacuating a neighborhood. There are other types of flooding events that we are also concerned about, whether it's rainfall or for tides. We are setting up protection measures for those type of flooding events as well. Thank you.

Mayor Adams: And that's so important what Zach stated. People live in flood zones. And when there's a flood that threatens that zone, we evacuate. And so there's nothing new here, we're not going to treat migrants if there's a flood and say, well, we're going to evacuate them and not evacuate other New Yorkers that live in the flood zone. No, people who live in zone one, if you live in a flood zone, if you have beachfront property, if you live in these areas, we evacuate them. This is a professional operation that we have here and nice of them understand what they're doing.

Question: (Inaudible) Post, I don't know if you saw today's cover, but we reported that one in five migrants are coming from Texas. Given that one-fifth of migrants in New York are arriving from Governor Abbott with more coming from the coordination would be El Paso mayor. Why haven't you called on President Biden to spend time at the border?

Mayor Adams: Listen, I am frustrated with the fact that this is a national issue that must be resolved. What was also in the papers today from the New York — from the Washington Post — is that Governor Abbott received about 75,000 migrants. New York State has received 110,000 migrants. So, anyone who believes we are not doing our share, it's just wrong. That has been incorrectly reported. And so, the difference between what El Paso did… which we never invited migrants here, I don't know why we keep reporting that because that's not what happened… But the difference is that we did something that's really revolutionary it seems like right now; we communicated. We attempted to communicate with Governor Abbott's people and stated, "How do we coordinate during a crisis?" And so yes, this is a national problem. We must have a national solution to this problem. And we can't just say, "Let's just turn our backs on New York City." And that comes with coordinating with all of our country on how do we deal with this issue.

Question: Call it a national problem. Why don't we just call…

Mayor Adams: I'm sorry?

Question: If you call it a national problem, why don't you just call on the president to do something about it? Or is it because you did request $500 million in funding?

Mayor Adams: Well, you guys know more than I do. We requested money to deal with the crisis. That's what we did. And that's what we are going to continue to do. It's expensive and we should not have to trade off dealing with the needs of New Yorkers and dealing with the needs of migrants and asylum seekers. That is not fair to New Yorkers. I have an obligation and responsibility to provide the resources that New Yorkers need and I'm going to do that. And right now, we have been forced to say, "Do we take care of New Yorkers or do we take care of migrants?" And we're not doing that. We have to use the dollars that we have to take care of the population of people in this city. But what is happening is wrong. And I said it over and over again, we need help. And the national government has a responsibility in assisting in this national problems, but also those local governments like Governor Abbott have a responsibility to coordinate what we're doing. We should not attack another state because we are angry about what's happening in the country. No, we should coordinate. That's all we're saying to Governor Abbott and everyone else. There should be coordination in our country right now.

Question: Mr. Mayor?

Mayor Adams: Yes sir.

Question: On this Orchard Beach facility, will it comply with all Right to Shelter regulations?

Mayor Adams: Again, we have to separate the two. We have a shelter obligation that we are fulfilling every day. Everyone knows that. And we have a migrant, asylum seeker crisis. It is our belief that we need to treat this like the crisis that it is. No one thought that we would be receiving over 13,000 people for housing. And so we are going to treat everyone in a humane fashion, but these are two different entities. This is a crisis of migrant and asylum seekers and that is how we’re responding to it.

Question: Will not comply with regulations in terms of space between beds, in terms of supplies they're given, services they receive like mail and laundry. Those will not be provided.

Mayor Adams: The migrant crisis is outside of the housing initiative that we're doing in (inaudible) for Right to Shelter. These are two different entities. We're dealing with the humanitarian crisis that was created by human hands, I say over and over again.

Question: My colleague had a story this morning about the death of someone who was leaving Rikers Island. Are you concerned that Commissioner Molina, under pressure, is trying to lower the Rikers' death count?

Mayor Adams: No, and that's not what happened. I was a bit surprised at the tone of that story. That's not what he did. What happens… and I hope the paper does a follow up because the way we are given the impression of what Commissioner Molina did, it's just sending the wrong message. Commissioner Molina is probably the most compassionate commissioner we've ever had in a Department of Corrections. So he used a technical term to say to get the person off the corrections count. Meaning when you get that person off the corrections umbrella of compassionate care, you are now allowing family members to go visit him, be around him or her in a dignified manner without correction officers all around. The person is at the end of his life and Molina has no control on the release of a person that's during that compassionate release. He doesn't have control of that. He put in for it, and then there are other entities. H + H makes that decision. So it's not like he can just move someone off.

And so I commend him. How he has gone to the hospital, how he has spoken to family members who, their loved ones are at the end of their lives. This commissioner has been as compassionate as anyone could be. He doesn't have to do that but he knows that we're talking about human beings. And so the spirit of that article is meaning like he was trying to get it off his count so that it wouldn't be counted under the Department of Corrections, that was just not true.

Question: But isn't it fair to assume that his health was impacted by his stay at the jail, that that should be factored into the conditions there?

Mayor Adams: No, I don't. Only a medical doctor can state that. And I have not read that his health was impacted by his stay there. And if it was there, that it was impacted by his stay there, that's all part of the report. But what Molina was trying to do — we need to be very clear on what he was trying to do — he was saying if we get it off… The technical term he used, those at the Department of Correction understand. If we get it from under the Department of Correction, then we could treat that family in a humane way. That's what he was saying. They're able to come visit their loved one without him being shackled to the bed, without correction officers standing around them. That shouldn't be the last image that a family member sees if you know someone's about to transition.

And it was very thoughtful for him to do it. And I just think the energy of that story sent just the wrong message of a commissioner that shows the level of compassion that this commissioner is showing. He talks to the parents, he talks to the family members, he picks them up, he goes to the hospital. That's not within his portfolio.

Question: Question on City Council redistricting. There was reporting last week that your deputy chief of staff contacted…

Mayor Adams: Don't leave me, don't leave me. I feel safer when you're here. (Laughter.)

Commissioner Iscol: I know, sir. I feel proud right here.

Question: There was reporting that your deputy chief of staff contacted your appointees to the Redistricting Commission and told them you were against the maps and that they should vote against it. Is that the case? And why were you against the maps if so?

Mayor Adams: Well, I'm not aware that if the deputy did, I'm not aware of that. We're going to continue to advocate to have fair maps and I'm not aware of anything other than us complying fully with the rules of mapping. Redistricting is important, and so we want to make sure that we have fair maps and I trust my appointees.

Question: I just had another clarification about the tents and the asylum seekers. So will there be kids in there and will you guys also be working with like Legal Aid and Coalition for the Homeless to make sure that you guys are fulfilling your legal obligation when it comes to sheltering asylum seekers?

Commissioner Iscol: There will not be any minors in the tent facility up at Orchard Beach. We are in very close contact both with the state, with Legal Aid, and with other organizations to make sure we're doing right by this population.

Question: Going back to Rikers, are you still confident in the job that the commissioner is doing there? This is not the first death this year, this is following another death just last week. Is there any concern that there could be a federal takeover of Rikers?

Mayor Adams: Heck yeah I'm confident. You have a commissioner that is just… Even the federal monitor that's there is talking about what Commissioner Molina is doing. Listen, we're a better correctional facility because of him. We had councilmen and women who are saying that what we see is the improvements that we're looking for. Are we all the way there? No. No. Are we getting there? Yes. Do we have the best person to do the job? Yes. I am fully confident in Commissioner Molina's ability to bring his expertise, his compassion, just the benevolence. This guy is just a good guy. And when I could call a commissioner 1, 2 a.m. in the morning and he's just ready, rearing to go, he has the commitment that's needed. Yes, I am fully, fully confident in his ability to finally turn the corner working with the special monitor and everyone that's involved to get it done. And he's doing it every day under some challenging circumstances.

Question: Mayor, your office released some public schedules for the first six months of mayoralty but with way less transparency than we saw from the de Blasio, that we see from Hochul. Do you think that the public should be able to know who you're meeting with in your public capacity as mayor or are you okay with just there being blurriness and a lack of clarity?

Mayor Adams: I'm not sure if I understand that, what part was not transparent?

Question: There were events on the schedule where there was no mention of who… It was like “meeting” and that was it. It didn't say who you were meeting with. De Blasio would say which staffers were in meetings joining him. You did not release that. Stuff like that.

Mayor Adams: Okay. Well first you said it that "In your capacity as mayor." And so not every meeting I have is in my capacity as mayor. Some meetings it’s not… And it's very difficult on how I flow. I'm out, I have dinner, I leave the dinner, I'm going to hit the train stations. You can't plan for that. I'm going to a NYCHA development and walk through. I want to see what it's like 1 a.m. in the morning. Are we doing patrol? I mean you just can't plan for that. I'm going to visit a homeless shelter when I finish in City Hall at 2 a.m. Okay, I want to go to a homeless shelter. I want to go to see what's the coverage around the place at 3 a.m. And so, you're trying to put me in the box of these mayors that may have been 9 to 5 guys. I'm a 9 to 9 guy.

And so, if you want me to fit under this description, if you give me your number while you're home in your nighties, I'll text you and say, "Come and hang out with me on the N train." I mean, you’ve got a mayor — Okay, give me that. And what I'm going to do, I'm going to be transparent about every reporter I text and say, "Come meet me here." And I'm going to say, "This is how many actually showed up." So I'm on 125th Street with Shams DaBaron going over the bridge to Randall's Island. That was spontaneous. And so I think that you've had a lot of mayors that did the waltz. One, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three. I do the boogaloo. I salsa. So if you want to get through these next three years and three months, don't try to script me because I told you all this when I was elected. If you try to script me, you're not going to get it right.

Question: (Inaudible) Proactively report on that.

Mayor Adams: I don't know what I'm doing every night. I don't know what I'm doing after dinner. I don't know what I'm doing after having a cigar. I don't know what I'm doing. I feel like, you know what Eric, I still feel like going and seeing the city. I feel like going and driving into Washington Heights and seeing do we have a motorcycle problem? This is how I flow. This is how I flow.

Question: I'll go off script as well. I want to anticipate we're in the middle of… We might be getting hit by Ian not as a hurricane, going back to weather related topics. 


Mayor Adams: Love New York.

Question: Getting hit by Ian as a tropical depression. (Speaks in Spanish.) Do you have any plans in case we have a lot of flooding again in the train? And going back to the box, immigrants. We have a crisis. (Speaks in Spanish.) We have a security crisis as well with violent incidents against these very immigrants that are coming looking for safety. What are you going to do?

Mayor Adams: This is all… As the commissioner, Iscol, says, it's all about safety of people here. And we do not have a violent... There was an incident that happened in Brooklyn in the shelter but we cannot make it seem like those outliers are the norms. That's not true. When I go visit these shelters and I see the large population, people are trying to get back on their feet and we have an obligation to assist them. If there's an incident that cannot be, "This is what's happening all over the system," that's just not accurate. The goal is to make… Huh?

Question: We had two or three incidents, even our camera crew were harassed by people in the shelter asking us not to report that another incident. So it's not that it's a constant thing, but it's becoming a thing in the past few days.

Mayor Adams: No-one should stop you from reporting an incident if it happened. You said we had two or three. We had over 13,000. 13,000. So are we going to live life through the two or three? Are we going to live life through the 12,907, whatever the number is. So yes, you have two or three. When you put people in settings, conflicts come up. We must be there to prevent those conflicts and give the safety and there’s nothing more paramount than that for us. And we are pleased with the safety that we are providing.

Question: (Inaudible.)

Mayor Adams: Is that from the children?

Question: So on the Orchard Beach tents, and we are going into the Fall, some experts are predicting a surge in COVID cases…

Mayor Adams: Surge in?

Question: COVID cases.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: What are the protocols, if any, the city has set up to test, inoculate people coming in that are going to be packed in in a dorm style situation?

Mayor Adams: Dr. Vasan, I spoke with him this morning, he's going to be doing a briefing on where we are with COVID, where we are with monkeypox, where we are with polio. He's going to do a full briefing on that. But we are factoring in now that people are indoors, the weather is going to get colder. Dr. Vasan is going to be factoring in all of this. Not only in the humanitarian locations we're setting up, but in our schools, in our hospitals. So the team is on. We're still on COVID. I know that people don't realize that we navigated our way to where we are now because we've been doing a great job. But trust me, every other day we have our briefings. Dr. Vasan keeps us updated. He shows us the trends and he's factoring that into the humanitarian location that we are opening so that we can respond accordingly. But this is factored into our overall plan. Thank you all.

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