Mayor Adams’s First 100 Days: A Focus on Crime, Covid and Crises – The New York Times

Eric Adams has served as a cheerleader for New York City’s revival while taking an aggressive stance against homeless encampments and signs of lawlessness.
Credit…An Rong Xu for The New York Times
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Emma G. FitzsimmonsJeffery C. Mays and
On an unusually cold morning in late March, Mayor Eric Adams began his day visiting a child-care center in Queens. Roughly seven miles away, police officers in Brooklyn were carrying out his order to clear homeless encampments, tossing away tents and other belongings in a garbage truck as part of a new public safety initiative.
The mayor also held a jobs-related announcement with JetBlue and later attended the premiere of the Broadway show “Plaza Suite.” His day ended at Manhattan’s newest office skyscraper, at an event promoting a credit card that encourages people to pay their rent with plastic, where he was photographed partying with the model Cara Delevingne.
It was Day 87 of the Adams administration, a day that reflected the new mayor’s robust agenda and his early priorities. The homeless sweeps, criticized by advocates as uncaring and simplistic, represent a key part of his crime strategy to attack symbols of lawlessness. The star-studded events and jobs announcements are part of his business-friendly, cheerleader approach to governing.
Mr. Adams, in an interview at City Hall to discuss his first 100 days as mayor, insisted that addressing homelessness and attending to the city’s nightlife were part of his job, and not in conflict with his image during the campaign as a champion of working-class New Yorkers.
“I got to feed my nightlife to get tourists back here — a multibillion-dollar industry,” he said. “And so people who subscribe to the theory that ‘OK, you’re removing encampments, and so you now must sit at home and not be seen in the other aspects of your job,’ that’s just silly. My job is so multifaceted.”
Mr. Adams, who is known to work long hours and who revealed that he slept only four hours at night, said that his evening included another stop not listed on his public schedule.
“Now I left that event — know what I did?” he said. “I went in the subway system and made sure that we were handing out information about being in a homeless shelter.”
His motto is “Get Stuff Done,” and Mr. Adams pointed to several accomplishments ahead of his 100th day on Sunday: creating new anti-gun police units and more beds at shelters, and expanding a summer school program to include 110,000 students and a youth jobs program to include 100,000 young people.
But Mr. Adams has also been contending with challenges that have few quick solutions, including the city’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. On Sunday, the mayor’s 100th day in office, his press secretary announced that Mr. Adams had tested positive for the virus and would be canceling public events for the week.
Crime has risen this year, and Mr. Adams has faced plenty of criticism over his policies and hiring decisions. He has not offered up detailed plans for more affordable housing or for the future of the gifted and talented program in city schools.
His relationship with the City Council also seems to be in question. The Council speaker recently castigated the mayor because three city agencies skipped a five-hour Council oversight hearing on a Bronx fire that killed 17 people. The speaker, Adrienne Adams, said that the agencies’ absence “leads me to presume that your administration does not treat this important topic with the full seriousness deserved.”
Other council members have taken issue with the mayor’s proposed budget cuts, contending that they would hurt the city’s most vulnerable residents and that the police units could harass Black and Latino residents.
But given his emphasis on criminal justice in his mayoral campaign, Mr. Adams’s first term is likely to be judged on whether his administration can begin to lower crime — a national issue that could prove difficult for him to control.
On Wednesday, the city’s police commissioner announced new crime figures that showed a 36 percent increase in major crimes and a 16 percent rise in shootings over the past year.
Mr. Adams has recently deployed seven new anti-gun police units, one of the key elements of his anti-crime plan, and said last week that the units had taken nearly 30 guns off the streets.
“I do not get the grade that I deserve until we start seeing crime move in the right direction,” Mr. Adams said in the interview at City Hall.
Mr. Adams, a former police captain, was immediately confronted by a spate of high-profile violent crimes in January, including the shooting deaths of two police officers in Manhattan and the death of a woman who was pushed in front of a train at the Times Square subway station.
Last month, the Police Department began to enforce so-called quality-of-life matters, a throwback to the city’s embrace of “broken windows” policing — enforcement of low-level offenses in an effort to prevent more serious crimes.
Mr. Adams also ordered the police to keep people from sheltering in the subway system and then followed up with his push to clear homeless encampments.
The progressive caucus in the City Council — more than half of council members — said that Mr. Adams had “displayed cruelty” with his homeless sweeps and asked the mayor to stop them. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been a high-profile critic, raising alarm about his policing tactics and changes to solitary confinement at the Rikers Island jail.
Ms. Adams, the Council speaker, laid out a platform with her members to oppose some of the mayor’s public-safety moves and called for increasing the number of beds for the homeless.
“Public safety can be achieved when we invest in ensuring our communities are strong, so we can actually prevent crime and violence before they occur,” Ms. Adams said in a statement. “A balanced and comprehensive approach to public safety that focuses more on prevention is the most effective.”
Other stumbling blocks quickly emerged. His push to restore the city’s economy was tempered by the Omicron surge of the coronavirus. He took heat for certain hires, including a former police official who left the department while under federal investigation and three pastors who have been criticized for espousing homophobic views.
Mr. Adams, a vegan enthusiast who wrote a book about his plant-based diet, was even forced to acknowledge that he eats fish.
His frustrations with how his message is being received have occasionally surfaced at his news conferences. At one, he chided the City Hall press corps and threatened to stop taking off-topic questions, arguing that he was doing a “darn good job.”
More recently, Mr. Adams warned staffers that anyone violating his “discipline of message” in front of a “gotcha” press corps would be fired, according to audio obtained by Politico. Mr. Adams confirmed in the interview at City Hall that he was now personally reviewing every city news release each morning and said that it took only about 15 minutes.
“We’re going to be one team with one message,” he said, adding that people who had their own personal agenda were “not a fit” for his administration.
The mayor’s relationship with state leaders is also still something of a work in progress. While he has established a good rapport with Gov. Kathy Hochul — something that his predecessor, Bill de Blasio, never managed with the former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo — he has seen mixed results in Albany.
Michael Gianaris, the deputy majority leader of the State Senate who represents western Queens, said he had not had a conversation or a private meeting with Mr. Adams since the mayor took office. Mr. Gianaris said the mayor had instead appeared to rely on Governor Hochul for support.
“There are dozens of people in the State Legislature whose interests are to do what’s best for New York City,” he said. “It’s an odd strategy.”
Mr. Adams’s lone trip to the State Capitol in February did not go well. The tabloids focused on pushback from state lawmakers on the mayor’s request to toughen the state bail law, with The Daily News running a front-page headline that said: “Eric ‘Beat Up’ in Crime Fight.”
The $220 billion state budget, which was agreed upon on Thursday, did include some of Mr. Adams’s priorities, including some changes to the bail law, an expansion of the earned-income tax credit and extra funding for child care. He said in the interview at City Hall that he was disappointed that mayoral control of schools, another top priority, was not included in the budget, but added that he was confident it would be approved separately.
The mayor said he was proud of initiatives like expanding a doula program for new mothers to 500 families and vocational training for 90 foster care youth. Two ideas he talked about on the campaign trail — universal dyslexia screenings in schools and a “MyCity” app to offer government services like food stamps in one place — should arrive later this year or early next year, he said.
He has also courted business leaders to help with the city’s economic recovery and has sought their input on how best to push the city forward as it emerges from the pandemic.
But at a time when the city is facing a worsening affordability crisis, the mayor has not issued a housing plan despite promising the State Legislature in February that he would do so. After he missed his own deadline, Rachel Fee, the executive director of the New York Housing Conference, checked in with his housing team to see if it had a new timeline, but it did not.
“For the last eight years, we’ve been producing upward of 20,000 units of affordable housing a year — that’s either new construction or preservation,” Ms. Fee said. “We’re going to see a real slowdown.”
The pandemic remains a daunting challenge, with cases, fueled by the BA.2 subvariant of the coronavirus, rising again, from about 600 daily cases on average in early March to about 1,500 daily cases now.
Mr. Adams, who has been vocal about people returning to offices and removing mask requirements, may have to make difficult decisions about whether to bring back some restrictions. He already had to delay an announced move to lift a mask requirement for young preschool children.
The mayor holds a briefing with his health team every day at 8:30 a.m. to review the latest virus figures. On a recent call, Mr. Adams sat on his exercise bike while his advisers warned him about rising case levels that could peak in the next two or three weeks. He peppered them with questions, asking about how to spread public awareness on antiviral treatments.
“Is there any room to have those messages or notes in the backpacks of children they can take home to their families?” the mayor asked a school official. The official said he would work on it.
Mr. Adams gave himself a grade of “incomplete” in a series of 100-day interviews on Friday.
“We are dealing with historical problems, and you’re seeing them play out across our country with the increase in violence, the mental health issues that stemmed from Covid,” he said on “Good Day New York” on Fox 5. “But clearly, we’re laying the foundation to move our city in the right direction.”
The mayor was upbeat at the interview at City Hall, saying that he did not find the job difficult after a lifetime of public service.
“These last 100 days — there have been painful moments,” he said. “But there was nothing new for me and the totality of this life that I have lived, and so I don’t find this job hard at all.”


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