Mayor Adams advocates transparency with weekly off-topic questions policy

In the words of Fabian Levy, Deputy Mayor for Communications, the administration is "experimenting with a better way to talk" with reporters.

It’s an experiment, yes. Whether it’s "better" is up for debate.

As of Monday, Mayor Eric Adams and his team will only take off-topic questions one day a week. 

This week’s day: Tuesday.

Adams stated at the start of a briefing, flanked by 12 of his senior staff and deputy mayors.

By forbidding reporters from asking questions on anything but the stated topic of a given event, Tuesday was the first time New Yorkers heard the Mayor himself counter what his chief adviser said over the weekend.

"Close the border," Ingrid Lewis-Martin said on WPIX.

After heaping praise on his long-time aide, the Mayor said, "The borders should remain open."

Understandably, many of Tuesday’s questions were related to migrants. The Mayor and his team say the numbers of incoming asylum seekers is, right now, surging.

"We are looking at almost 600 a day," Adams said at one point. "These are real numbers."

"(It’s) 800 people a day in some cases," Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom said at another point in the briefing.

Adams was asked about his departure on Wednesday to Mexico, Ecuador, and Colombia.


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He says the purpose is partly to learn about the treacherous path some asylum seekers take en route to the border, but perhaps more so to counter what he says is propaganda being spread.

"We're going to tell (potential migrants) that… coming to New York doesn’t mean a stay in a 5-star hotel."

He believes being there in person can deter migrants from coming.

He says taxpayers will not be footing his bill, though there would be "nothing illegal or unethical" if they did.


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Reporters also went back to an issue he was hammered on last Friday: his communication during the torrential rains resulting from Tropical Storm Ophelia.

Adams ordered schools to shelter in place, but according to news outlet Chalkbeat, that message was never given directly to principals.

The mayor took issue with the question.

"No, no. We said the safest place for kids was in schools," Adams said. "I don’t know if I used the term ‘shelter in place.’"

In a press conference Friday, Adams said, "If you are at work or school, shelter in place."

Schools chancellor David Banks took some accountability but also says there's a difference between asking schools to undergo an official "shelter in place order" -- which involves not allowing anyone in or out-- and just asking people to shelter in place which is what they’re saying they did here.

"We should have had clearer communication," Banks said.