NEW YORK - As he wraps up his first year in office, Mayor Eric Adams gave his administration a grade.
"When you look at what we inherited and how we thrived after that, I feel comfortable with saying we were B-plus administration," Adams said in a one-on-one interview with Fox 5 News.
When Adams took office at the beginning of this year, New York City was in the midst of a COVID surge, vaccine and mask mandates were in place, and major felonies were at their highest total since 2016.
Adams said he believes crime trends are now shifting downward. He said he had to focus on the proliferation of guns, homicides, and shootings.
"Double-digit decrease in homicides, double-digit decrease in shootings," Adams said. "7,000 guns removed from our street, one of the highest numbers that we have witnessed."
What does he think is driving the crime surge all year?
"Bad people are coming back on our streets, catch, release, repeat. We have to free up our criminal justice system," Adams said. "I pushed for criminal justice reforms. But you always should analyze how do we tweak it to make it better?"
When was the last time he spoke to legislative leaders about this issue?
"I'm constantly speaking with them," he said.
However, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he hasn't spoken with the mayor since September. Does Adams plan to have a more aggressive agenda next year in Albany?
"Our team meets weekly with the state lawmakers, their staff and their team. It's a constant communication," Adams said. "You can't get everything you want from Albany, don't let anyone kid you. But when you do an analysis of what are your W's (wins) and what are your L's (losses), we had so many W's."
Besides just tweaks to bail reform, Adams said state lawmakers also have not stepped in when it comes to the migrant crisis.
"I don't recall one letter going to Washington, D.C., from anyone that's criticizing us to say, 'Hey, we don't deserve to be treated this way,'" Adams said.
Mental Health Plan
The mayor recently launched a mental health initiative that forces people with severe mental illness off the streets and into a hospital for evaluation. But the initiative has faced backlash.
Why focus on taking them off the street rather than first investing in mental health programs that already have a really long waitlist?
"When you say, ‘Well why not build out the infrastructure first,’ which would take many cases years to do, let's [instead] deal with the crisis on our streets right now," Adams said. "The crises right on our streets right now are people who are in danger to themselves and others."
But if the infrastructure is not there, how does the city make sure that these people don't return to the streets?
"That is how you know what your needs are in the infrastructure. Because if you continue to have this false sense that because people are not coming in so we don't need to build out the infrastructure," Adams said. "We need those thousand beds that we closed during COVID. We need them back online. We need our state lawmakers and city lawmakers to see what the demand is to look at the waiting lists."
No More Remote Work
When it comes to boosting the city's economy, Adams is renewing his push to bring workers back into the office at least part-time and said remote work can bring with it inequality.
"You can't have a dual employment system where you have Black, brown, low-income New Yorkers going into the office every day and affluent, high-paying New Yorkers are not going into that atmosphere," Adams said. "We are going to be doing a survey with all of our employees to say, 'Give us your thoughts, but when you give us your thoughts tell us how do we compensate for those people who can't stay home? How do we also compensate them for coming into the office while others don't have to come into the office?' So let's find the solutions together."
Recently, Adams was out of town for a couple of days. Does he feel like New Yorkers deserve more transparency when it comes to his schedule?
"Who is more transparent than I am? But let me share this with you. I have not gotten over the loss of my mother. Christmastime is one of the most difficult times for me," Adams said. "If the mayor of the City of New York has stated during Christmastime he needs a moment to reflect and he's going to take two days to do it, how dare anyone question that? And I will do it again."
What is he most excited about in 2023?
"I think now is the opportunity for us to further execute what we built out when it comes to housing, safety, education, all of those things," Adams said. "And I'm excited about it. I say over and over again, 2023 is my Aaron Judge year and I'm ready to be at the plate."