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Progressives Complain About the Adams Administration But What Are They Going To Do About It?

As progressives begin another round of recriminations of Eric Adams, the question remains: What is the plan?

9:33 AM EDT on September 19, 2023

(John McCarten/NYC Council Media Unit)

Eric Adams is leading an administration that won't tell you where he is or who he's speaking to, that undermines long-planned policy at the urging of local business honchos, and that is flagging under many major metrics for success. Adams also appears to have tipped off his allegedly corrupt Buildings Commissioner to an ongoing District Attorney investigation, and so on. The Adams administration is definitely "getting stuff done," but maybe not the best kind of stuff.

Since a brief period of wait-and-see at the beginning of his term, progressives have been slamming the mayor from every direction— from handling of the migrant crisis, his austerity-driven policies, and his running of Rikers Island. Their efforts to stand in the way of any of Adams's priorities have mostly been for naught, with the sole win, a City Council override of a mayoral veto over housing vouchers, likely to end up in court and drag on for months. 

This week, everyone's getting in on the Adams-bashing. Right now, in front of City Hall, the City Council's Progressive Caucus is holding a rally to call out City Hall's announcement of an imminent 15 percent slashing of the municipal budget, meant to hurt New Yorkers and pit them against arriving migrants in a battle for resources, something that Adams has been attempting to make happen for over a year. The rally, featuring the Comptroller Brad Lander, will call out the cuts for being far in excess of the city's funding needs for arriving migrants. At the same time, Lander has been scrutinizing City Hall's spending on emergency contracts given to unqualified shelter operators like DocGo, which got a $432 million no-bid deal from the administration, despite serious accusations of mismanagement. (Adams himself spoke at the company's investor call this year). 

While it's one thing to rally against cuts (that the mayor can pretty much execute unilaterally, anyways), some politicians are trying to offer some helpful advice. Many of the City and state's socialist politicians issued a series of policy suggestions aimed at Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul, meant to free up money to help get New Yorkers out of shelters and migrants into the workforce. At the same time, a tactful Errol Louis has begun throwing out extremely feasible ideas for how the city can raise revenue while closing this budget gap, without cutting services: Collecting outstanding fines and fees, a pied-à-terre tax on out-of-city residents, or even just hiring more city auditors, could easily make a dent in the budget gap. 

These specific, prescriptive solutions—instead of just railing against the cruelty of the mayor's decisions—possibly stand more of a chance of being embraced by the public at large. Rallying for something bold instead of just trying and failing once again to stop Eric Adams, could create a viable coalition. 

Because right now, if local progressive politicians really believe Adams is the existential threat to New York City they say he is, well, it's time to actually do something about it.

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