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Eric Adams

Eric Adams’s State of the City 2024: Stay Focused, Grind, Details TBD

Did you hear that crime is down and jobs are up?

(Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

There's a lot of unknowns in store for Eric Adams in 2024—will a federal investigation into his campaign fundraising implicate people close to him, or even the mayor himself? Will more contenders step into the ring to challenge Adams's reelection in 2025? Will the world finally find out whether he can kickflip

We might finally get an answer to that last one, as Adams announced on Wednesday during his 2024 State of the City speech that the City will be building or refurbishing four skateparks in the Bronx and Brooklyn with the help of Tony Hawk. He also announced a few other things during his address in the Bronx, but only after playing two glowing tribute videos to himself, and after he gave a lengthy list of shout-outs for fellow elected officials who applauded the mayor's address before launching into his speech. Oh, and then there was the strange tangent he went on about umbilical cords (he was referencing how connected he felt to the women who are his deputy mayors, which, I mean, do you expect him to stay entirely on book? It's Eric Adams!) There were also hecklers and protesters inside and outside of the auditorium at Hostos Community College, rallying against Adams's refusal to close Rikers Island, his treatment of migrants, and the fact that he won't call for a ceasefire in Gaza. 

Adams's address was far less bold in scope than his previous two addresses—instead, he hammered home the theme that he and his administration are doing a great job (New Yorkers think otherwise), and that he's going to keep on "staying focused, no distractions, and grind" with the rest of his staff. We're here to break it down for you.

What's New: 

The Department of Sustainable Delivery: Adams proposed a brand new City department, whose job would be to finally begin to regulate delivery apps like Uber and Amazon. That sort of regulation is much needed, given how the companies have posed serious and sometimes fatal dangers to both their workers and regular New Yorkers through their incentivizing of reckless delivery driving, the proliferation of faulty lithium ion batteries, and their undercutting of profits for restaurants. Substantive regulation was a long time coming, but whether the new department will actually crack down on the app companies, or just offload responsibility for crashes and fires onto drivers who have been routinely denied protections enjoyed by regular employees, will be crucial. 

24 in 24: The Adams administration wants to advance 24 housing development projects on public land to create or "preserve" 24,000 units of housing in the City (all of this in 2024, get it?). This would be a nice boost to the City's housing plans, especially as Albany puts the onus on the City to do the bulk of affordable housing construction in the state, but a key phrase here is the pesky "preserve," a bit of a technical loophole that the de Blasio administration also used to inflate how much affordable housing it created. Things that should never be lost (like affordable housing), probably shouldn't count as a gain. (The mayor also reiterated his request to Albany to reinstate the 421-a tax break for developers to build affordable housing while also making lots of money building market-rate housing). 

Social media is a public health hazard: He announced that New York will be the first city to declare social media as a public health hazard…even though the mayor just produced several videos to be distributed on social media railing against City Council bills. OK. 

What's Old: 

Streamlining NYPD internal discipline cases: For months, Hell Gate has asked Eric Adams whether he would look into how the NYPD handled the internal disciplinary case against the officers who killed Kawaski Trawick, a case that the NYPD seemingly sabotaged by taking too long to hand over video evidence to investigators. On Wednesday, Adams said he wants to streamline the process by half, partly by allowing cases to proceed contemporaneously with criminal proceedings. He's promised faster investigations before—and those have just mostly led to cops escaping consequences in a speedier fashion. We'll see what Adams is referring to here soon enough. 

Trash containerization, cont'd: The City will continue its slow but much needed rollout of trash containerization (did you know the mayor HATES rats???) and expand its containerization pilot in Harlem. At this point, the City will be rid of black bags on sidewalks by…well, by that time the rats (and cockroaches) will have definitely won out regardless. 

Shutting down unlicensed weed shops: The mayor is once again asking Albany to give the NYPD the authority to shut down unlicensed weed shops. Right now, it's mostly up to the state's Office of Cannabis Management to crack down on stores, and they have their hands full.

What's Missing:

Tenant protections: The mayor announced a fairly anodyne new "cabinet" called the Tenant Protection Cabinet, which according to a press release will "allow City agencies to seek coordination and efficiency across departments, leverage resources, and shape current and future services to better protect tenants and keep New Yorkers in their homes." What about things that will actually keep New Yorkers in their homes, like funding for housing court lawyers or supporting Good Cause Eviction legislation? He didn't mention them at all. Here's another anodyne working group, instead!

Is there still a hiring freeze?: A new City department sounds like something that would have to be staffed, but as of right now, the City is still in a hiring freeze. That freeze was based on faulty budget projections by the City's budget director, and yet, even after last week's sudden reveal of a tax windfall, he hasn't mentioned if the City will start hiring again. So is the City going to begin filling positions or will it be business as usual under Adams, with thousands of City positions going vacant? We'll see.

Literally anything about Rikers Island or our overcrowded, crumbling, deadly jails system: The mayor is just over three years away from the legally mandated deadline when the City needs to close Rikers Island and move detainees to borough-based jails. Beyond forming yet another committee to look into how the City can get around that deadline, the mayor hasn't done much to move forward with the closing of Rikers, even as people continue to die on the island and the federal government urges a judge to let it take over the City's jails system. While we're talking about Rikers….

His most recent vetoes: While the mayor has told basically anyone who would listen over the past few weeks that a minor reporting bill that would make the NYPD do a small amount of additional work is essentially an existential threat to the city, he was silent on the topic during today's forward-looking, bright-eyed address. Same for the other bill he vetoed, which would eliminate the use of solitary confinement on Rikers. Apparently, today was all about projecting strength, at a time when Adams is deeply underwater with New York City voters, and is running out of allies to fall back on as he prepares for a reelection campaign that today's speech served as the de facto beginning of. 

Kickflip? Can he? He didn't say. We'll find out, we promise. 

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