Mayor Eric Adams was right to focus on some vital issues — “jobs, safety, housing and care” — in Thursday’s State of the City address. Alas, the challenges he’ll face to make any meaningful headway on them are enormous.
Take crime: Adams rightly noted that he’s made progress on reducing gun violence; shootings and murders were down last year vs. 2021. And some of the plans he rolled out are promising: He’ll expand the NYPD’s Neighborhood Safety Teams, which get guns off the streets, and the department’s efforts to fight retail theft.
He’ll also target repeat offenders — 1,700 of whom commit “a disproportionate amount” of the city’s violent crime — by channeling extra funds to city prosecutors to deal with the state’s onerous “discovery” rules for sharing evidence.
Yet state lawmakers have rejected essential criminal-justice fixes, such as to those discovery rules, bail reform and the Raise the Age law. Gov. Kathy Hochul (whom Adams praised to the hilt) has no plans even to seek many of the needed changes.
Or jobs: The city still hasn’t recovered all those it lost during COVID, even as the nation is up 500,000. Gotham’s workforce actually shrunk by 300,000, with many residents (and employers) having moved away. Yet none of the key players — in Albany, or even Adams himself — is pushing to ease the city’s highest-in-the-nation taxes and destructive government mandates, like the minimum wage, which strangle job growth.
As state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli warned after Adams’ address, the city’s economy right now is “fragile.” And a slowdown will only aggravate City Hall’s already daunting fiscal troubles down the road.
The mayor also pleaded for “more help” from Albany and Washington to deal with the 42,000 (and counting) migrants now overwhelming city resources. Yet Hochul and President Joe Biden (who ignited the migrant crisis, yet still got fulsome Adams praise) have been deaf to his pleas.
Nor did the mayor offer much hope for public schools, even as his team just nixed space for a top-performing public charter school, Success Academy.
Adams vows to make 2023 his “Aaron Judge year,” a nod to the Yankee slugger who just set the American League record for single-season homers. But even stars need a strong team to actually win, and the folks in Albany and Washington that the mayor effusively lauded don’t seem to be playing on his (or the city’s) team.
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