In his third State of the City speech since becoming mayor two years ago, Mayor Eric Adams outlined several new initiatives Wednesday that he said will build on his push to make New York “safer” and more prosperous.
Adams’ speech, delivered at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, featured policy prescriptions that included a plan to create a Tenant Protection Cabinet focused on guarding against hostile landlords, a push to build more than 10,000 units of affordable housing on city land, the creation and refurbishment of several skate parks throughout the Big Apple and a directive designating social media a public health crisis.
Adams also hinted at the creation of an agency focused on the city’s growing number of delivery workers across the city, a vision for a “harbor of the future” he says will create jobs. He also introduced a plan to cut down the length of time disciplinary cases against officers are opened by half.
Some of his proposals, including a plan to close illegal cannabis shops proliferating the city and building more housing across the five boroughs, require state approval.
The speech comes a year ahead of Adams’ re-election run — a race that’s increasingly likely to feature a challenge from one or more fellow Democrats.
Before his address, Adams’ team played a video entitled, “The Blue-Collar Mayor Who Is Getting Stuff Done.” The hype video featured some of Adams’ political allies, including New York Rep. Adriano Espaillat and State Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, listing off some of the milestones of his administration, like a decrease in some crime categories in 2023 as compared to the year before.
“Our city has gotten safer,” Adams said in his speech before the college’s packed auditorium on the Grand Concourse.
The address also came as he faces severe headwinds on several fronts.
Fellow elected officials have become increasingly vocal in calling Adams out for his current policies, with City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams vowing to override his vetoes of bills that aim to ban solitary confinement in city jails and better document low-level NYPD stops. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has called Adams’ rhetoric around those bills “deceptive” and has likened him to former President Donald Trump several times.
At one point during the speech, Adams appeared to extend an olive branch to the speaker, telling her he loves her and “there’s nothing you can do.”
The mayor has weathered sustained attacks over his handling of the migrant crisis as well, especially around rules his administration instituted to push migrants out of city-operated shelters — a move City Comptroller Brad Lander has described as “cruel.”
The speaker, Williams and Lander were all on hand for Wednesday’s speech in the Bronx to see what the mayor has in store next.
Also present were dozens of protestors who arrived before the mayor’s speech to denounce him for cuts to city libraries, schools and pre-K as well as for what they described as prioritizing “policing and jails over care and community safety.”
Samy Feliz, whose brother, Allan Feliz, was killed by an NYPD officer in 2019, repeatedly lashed the mayor for lying to voters and for not sticking to his campaign vow to hold the NYPD accountable.
“Let me be clear and simple: Mayor Adams is using the city budget to shield cops from discipline, and he is lying to New Yorkers,” Feliz said through a bullhorn. “Mayor Adams has been lying since the campaign trail, and his promise of police accountability and transparency — he has not delivered.”
The mayor also took heat for this choice of venue, given recent cuts to CUNY.
“Mayor Adams, an alum of City Tech and John Jay Colleges, has some nerve holding his State of the City at Hostos Community College. The state of CUNY is NOT strong right now,” said James Davis, president of the Professional Staff Congress, the union that represents CUNY faculty. “Since the mayor came into office, CUNY colleges have cut courses, enacted hiring freezes, increased enrollment caps on classes and laid off PSC members in adjunct and full-time contingent titles. He has enacted and proposed cuts to community colleges totaling $94 million.”
In his speech, Adams touted that his own deputy mayor for strategic initiatives, Ana Almanzar, is a graduate of Hostos, calling the college’s “world class education” program.
Mayor Adams faces several other challenges as well.
There’s the budget, which the mayor took heat for after his team initially low-balled the city’s incoming revenue estimates amid deep and controversial cuts to city agencies. There are his record low approval ratings and a federal investigation into his campaign’s ties to Turkey. And on top of it all, there are now several Democratic rivals mulling potential primary challenges in next year’s mayoral election.
Adams didn’t linger much on any of those things Wednesday, though, choosing instead to focus on looking forward and what he views as his successes.
(New York Daily News reporter Cayla Bamberger contributed to this story.)