New York City Mayor Eric Adams wore a smile as he walked into the City Hall press room Tuesday morning, with “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z (featuring Alicia Keys) blaring through the sound system.
The Brownsville native’s cool demeanor belied the abundance of crises shadowing his administration, including a sexual assault lawsuit filed against him under the Adult Survivors Act and a federal investigation into his 2021 campaign.
The mayor has also faced blowback for his sweeping cuts to the city’s budget, announced Nov. 16, which will slash funds for schools, libraries, the police and more. Adams on Tuesday said the cuts were necessary because of the influx of migrants from the Southern border seeking asylum in the city and the federal government's reluctance to “pay its fair share” and reimburse the city for housing the migrants, which he said is expected to cost nearly $11 billion over two years.
“This is not the budget I want to pass. I want to pass a budget that invests in children, older adults, our infrastructure, keep our streets clean, provide the public protection with our police officers,” Adams told reporters at the press conference.
The cuts would be “extremely painful for New Yorkers,” Adams said two weeks ago. Library leaders said in a statement they would have to start closing some branches on Sundays, and the Department of Education would be cut by $547 million this year and $600 million next year. The number of Police Department officers is expected to fall below 30,000 for the first time since the 1980s.
Among the critics of Adams’ budget is House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who told Hell Gate NYC, “We need to check the math” on the proposed cuts. Asked to respond to Ocasio-Cortez’s critique, Adams chuckled and deferred to Ingrid Lewis-Martin, his chief advisor, seated to his left.
“Respectfully to AOC, it would behoove her to go to Washington, D.C., and meet with her colleagues and put together a decompression strategy and immigration policy rather than look at our budget,” Lewis-Martin said. “We need her help. That's what she's there for. She's supposed to put together an immigration process, and if an immigration process were in place, New York City wouldn't be in the condition that it's in now.”
Even with all the resources allocated for the migrant crisis, problems remain. On Monday evening, the city declared a code blue weather emergency – which is issued when the temperature drops to 32 degrees or less between 4:00pm and 8:00am – after reports of hundreds of migrants lined up outside a reticketing center Monday morning.
The city has been offering migrants who’ve received 30-day eviction notices free plane tickets out of the city.
“We want people to be reticketed, especially now since it's cold,” said Anne Williams-Isom, deputy mayor of health and human services. “They want to go to a warmer environment or to be with family and be in other places.”
Adams’ weekly press conference did not pass without questions about the federal investigation of his campaign. The mayor revealed that Brianna Suggs, his top fundraiser, was no longer doing fundraising for his 2025 re-election campaign. The FBI raided Suggs’ home in early November, prompting Adams to prematurely leave Washington D.C., where he had planned to meet with federal lawmakers about the migrant situation. Adams had previously said he had “full confidence” in Suggs.
Adams said he was confident he would not be accused of any wrongdoing from the FBI investigation.
“I sleep very well at night, because I follow the rules,” he said. “When you’re dealing with the stresses of things like this, your conscience speaks for you. And I sleep well.”