Op-Ed | Eric Adams’ NYC is only a ‘City of Yes’ for rich campaign donors

Mayor Eric Adams.
Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

The world of New York City politics is abuzz with rumors and speculations about where the FBI investigation into Mayor Adams’ 2021 campaign finance operation is leading. Forensic intrigue aside, though, it was clear who Adams was long before law enforcement confiscated his phones. Since the moment he took office, he’s been waging war on New York’s working class at the behest of his rich donors.

Five times since assuming the mayoralty, he has inflicted cruel, dangerous, unnecessary budget cuts on the beloved community programs and social goods that everyday New Yorkers depend on. Twice, his handpicked Rent Guidelines Board has hiked rents on regulated units and squeezed the New Yorkers who desperately need them. Again and again, he has helped his favored real estate developers and political allies cut corners, evade accountability, and maximize profits, at the expense of the rest of us.

This past spring, the City Council, behind the leadership of Speaker Adrienne Adams, fought tooth and nail alongside a wide array of grassroots organizations to reduce the severity of the cuts the Mayor initially proposed. For a set of us, the concessions he offered were insufficient to win our votes. When I delivered my speech explaining my No, I warned that whatever restorations we managed to secure, the Mayor might unilaterally undo later in the year, in utter contempt for the people and their elected Council. Unfortunately, he has proven me right.

Call it “authoritarianism,” “austerity,” or “corruption” – it amounts to the same thing: a City Hall of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. A “City of Yes” for billionaire developers and corporate landlords and a big fat No for everyday New Yorkers. A City Hall where “getting stuff done” means forcing out tens of thousands of working class Black and brown New Yorkers to make room for more out-of-town millionaires.

The fact is, wealthy elites are one thing New York definitely doesn’t lack. This is the wealthiest city in the world, with 136 billionaires, not to mention 724 New Yorkers worth over $100 Million. Yet the Mayor expects us to believe that this city can’t provide adequate funding for public schools, parks, transit, and sanitation. He expects us to willingly go without the childcare, bike lanes, and rat-free streets that less-wealthy cities around the world enjoy as a matter of course. He expects us to sacrifice our public safety, public health, and quality of life, so that his rich friends don’t have to sacrifice anything at all.

Enough. No more selling City Hall to the rich and powerful. It’s time for a mayor who will fight for all of us.