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Mayor of Many Residences Picks a Fight Over Where the Public Advocate Lives

'Vegan' mayor beefs.

9:49 AM EST on January 4, 2024

NYC Mayor Eric Adams at a crime briefing.
(Ed Reed / Mayoral Photography Office)

At Wednesday's hour-long briefing on 2023 crime statistics, Mayor Eric Adams sat beside much of NYPD's top brass to talk about public safety in New York City. As the officers and the mayor ran through the EOY numbers and took questions from reporters, some familiar talking points floated to the surface. According to the assembled speakers, thanks to the Adams administration's focus on public safety, crime dropped from 2022 to 2023 (depending, at least, on how you massage the numbers); residual disorder could be chalked up to familiar boogeymen like bail reform and a lack of respect for the law; and spending millions of dollars on subway policing was a totally worthwhile investment. One moment, however, stuck out as something new: a distinct jab from Adams at Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, in response to a question about how his administration would combat legislation from a "small group of people," including Williams, that supposedly weakens police power—in particular, a bill Williams introduced that requires NYPD officers to report low-level stops where they ask people for ID and to consent to voluntary searches.

"I find it astonishing that we have a public advocate who pushed for this police bill—he lives in a fort! He lives in a fort,"  Adams said, in reference to the fact that Williams lives in Fort Hamilton, an Army base in Brooklyn that also contains some private residential housing. That bill passed in late December with a majority of City Council votes despite Adams's vehement opposition—Gothamist even reported that he approached councilmembers, offering to lift budget cuts on their pet City projects in exchange for voting against the legislation. The mayor added of Williams, "He doesn't take the subway…to erode the ability of police to do protection, and you have an entire Army protecting your family and you drive around with police protection, and I don't know when the last time he was on the subway system [was]." 

In response to Adams's remarks, Williams called a Zoom press conference, where he compared Adams to "an angry, bratty child" and said, "My understanding is the mayor lives in New Jersey with his girlfriend," referring to the Fort Lee, New Jersey, condo Adams owns with his longtime partner Tracey Collins. "Eric Adams is not the Messiah for New York City," Williams continued. "The same God that elected him elected a lot of us on the exact same day. And a lot of us have different views."

Williams also traded barbs on Twitter with Adams aides, including Chief Advisor Ingrid Lewis Martin, who wrote: "This is really beneath you. You should be ashamed. You live in a fort on an army base. The mayor lives in Bed Stuy with his constituents. Shameful beyond belief." (An especially perplexing comment given the fact that mayors are supposed to live uptown, in Gracie Mansion.) "There's a lot of things this administration should be ashamed of. I don't think a discussion of them is productive on Twitter, though. So, hopefully, we can pause here," Williams tweeted in response

If this marks a new shift in the relationship between Adams and Williams, which has largely been friendly to date, it's also a deeply funny one, given that questions about where Adams lived dogged him during his campaign, as did weird details about properties he's listed as his address, like the Crown Heights apartment he said he shared with longtime friend and now-NYPD official Lisa White when he was Brooklyn borough president, or the other Crown Heights apartment he still co-owns with his ex-girlfriend Sylvia Cowan, who incidentally also owns a condo in the same Fort Lee building as Adams and Collins. 

In short, housing doesn't really make sense as a terrain of conflict for Adams to stake out—especially when the real pain point is probably the fact that, should Adams's mayoralty come to an abrupt ending, Williams will be the one moving into Gracie Mansion and bringing his vision of how New York City should be policed with him.

Some links about the city we all definitely live in:

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