Eric Adams in 2018 by Krystalb97, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license
Jul 15, 2021
Eric Adams levels up
The borough president and presumptive next mayor of New York City spent his week hobnobbing with the president and the governor
Brooklyn Borough President and Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams spent much of his first week as presumptive mayor-elect schmoozing. He met with President Joe Biden in Washington, and he held a joint press conference with Governor Andrew Cuomo. Adams’ parley with these leaders focused on combating two issues that became the centerpiece of his campaign for the Democratic parties’ nomination for mayor: crime and gun violence.
It might also signal the dawning of a new relationship between Albany and the mayor’s office, one that could benefit both parties.
On Monday Adams travelled to the White House to meet with Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and a slate of mayors and local public safety officials to discuss strategies for combating gun violence in big cities. Gun-related deaths are up by about 21 percent and the homicide rate climbed by 24 percent in the first three months of 2021 from the year prior, according to data from the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice on the country’s 30 biggest cities. Violent crime as a whole, however, remains lower than both five and 10 years ago.
After the meeting Adams told reporters: “We can’t continue to respond to symptoms. It’s time to respond to the underlying causes in our city. The prerequisite to prosperity for New York and America is public safety, reform, and justice.” The self-proclaimed “Biden of Brooklyn,” lauded the President for encouraging cities to use their $350 billion portion of the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package to invest in public safety. Adams and Biden agreed that this investment should be used to “redefine the ecosystem of safety,” and Adams was clear that this didn’t necessarily mean hiring more cops.
Adams even featured on the White House’s instagram, days before pop star Olivia Rodrigo appeared on the account in matching aviators with President Biden, where he encouraged policymakers to make sure their cities have a “clear role for police, crisis management teams, education and youth groups,” in combating violence.
Courting Cuomo, or is it the other way around?
Adams returned to his home borough to appear at a 40-minute news conference with Cuomo at Lenox Road Baptist Church in Flatbush on Wednesday in what was his first public appearance with the scandal-dogged Cuomo since nabbing the Democratic nomination. During the press conference Cuomo praised Adams saying, “He is going to be extraordinary, I believe that… I think Eric Adams and I are going to work very well together.” The language was similar to what the governor had said when de Blasio was himself an incoming mayor—and a far cry from the publicly combative relationship that Cuomo and de Blasio ended up having throughout the mayor’s tenure.
Cuomo has faced threats of impeachment and has been encouraged to resign by many Democrat lawmakers (including de Blasio) after his office misrepresented data on coronavirus deaths in nursing homes, and the Governor was accused of sexual harassment by several women. Adams was one of the only Democratic primary candidates not to call for Cuomo’s immediate resignation during the race, though Adams declined to raise his hand at a June debate when moderators asked the candidates if they wanted the Governor’s endorsement.
Adams previously said that “swift action must be taken,” against powerful men who prey on women but when pushed on Cuomo’s scandals during the press conference Adams said that he had to “Let the investigation [into Governor Cuomo] go to its outcome… I mean, that’s the system of justice that I protected in the city and will continue to do so. And the system of an investigation will determine the outcome.” State Senator Zellnor Myrie and assemblywoman Diana Richardson, who were in attendance at the press conference and had previously called for Cuomo’s resignation, called questions from journalists on Cuomo’s scandals “divisive,” and “inappropriate,” and largely refused to answer them.
Adams lavished praise on Governor Cuomo throughout the press conference saying the pair “see eye to eye that we must put in place real changes for people on the ground,” and celebrated the new anti-violence programs that Cuomo announced. These programs are part of the $138 million gun violence prevention executive order that Governor Cuomo unveiled last week which declared a state of emergency for the “epidemic,” of gun violence. The specific programs announced at the news conference with Adams focused on providing support to gun violence “hot spots,” around New York City, many of which are in central and East Brooklyn.
The program will create 4,000 jobs specifically for at-risk 15 to 24 year olds in these hot spots. Half of these jobs will be temporary summer jobs for youth in schools while the other half are intended to offer long term employment to the 2000+ youth out of school and unemployed in these areas. Around 415 of those summer jobs and 485 of the long-term jobs will be centered in East Brooklyn specifically. The governor’s office announced more facets of the program after the press conference including that the state will hire new violence interrupters, increase the staff at Brookdale Hospital to provide 24/7 care, and host more than 100 events at Shirley Chisholm State Park and elsewhere.
Adams and Cuomo, who ran primary races against candidates further to the left in their respective primaries, felt that these reforms proved that they could promote public safety while still allowing them to claim the progressive mantle. Cuomo was adamant that “We are progressive Democrats. And we have the same definition of what it means to be a progressive Democrat.” In his opening statements, Adams said he was “happy that [Governor Cuomo] touched on ‘progressive,’” saying “We’ve allowed the term ‘being progressive’ to be hijacked by those who do not have a track record of putting in place real progressive changes. And I am not going to surrender my progressive credentials.”
A Siena College poll conducted from June 22 to June 29 found that “plurality of New York voters believe the state Assembly should not impeach Gov. Andrew Cuomo, while 35 percent would support an effort to remove him from office amid a range of controversies facing him this year.”
Cuomo’s precarious position—the governor is reliant on support from Black voters, for example—may mean that his relationship with Adams will differ from his predecessor. For starters, Adams, a former State Senator, will have a keener sense of how Albany works on day one of his administration than de Blasio did. And at the press conference Wednesday, Adams confidently declared “I said it then and I’ll say it again, I am the face of the Democratic Party.”
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