Mayor Adams praises relationship with Hochul while pushing her for more migrant aid, amid reported tensions

Mayor Eric Adams walks tightrope in praising his working relationship with Governor Kathy Hochul, while demanding more migrant help from her administration.
Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday walked a tightrope between presenting a united front with Governor Kathy Hochul while reiterating demands that she do more to help the city shoulder the migrant influx amid ongoing tensions between the two over their respective roles in handling the crisis.

As disagreements between the mayor and governor over who bears more responsibility in managing the influx of over 100,000 migrants to the city have reached a fever pitch in recent weeks, the two appeared side-by-side at the annual meeting of the state Financial Control Board on Sept. 5.

Hizzoner kicked off the proceedings — where he, the governor and the city and state comptrollers discussed the Big Apple’s financial state — by comparing Hochul to his “favorite sister” Sandra, to illustrate their strong working relationship.

“You remind me of Sandra, my favorite sister,” Adams told Hochul. “Even when we have a philosophical disagreement, I have her back. And I have your back.”

“Did Sandra usually win?” Hochul asked.

“Yes,” Adams responded, sparking laughter from both pols, to which Hochul said “that’s good to know.”

Adams went on to list areas, outside the migrant crisis, where he and Hochul have had a productive working relationship, including a state-funded plan to flood city subways with police officers.

“We have some real battles that we fought together from the Subway Safety Plan to navigating COVID, to the challenges around mental health, we have been real partners,” he said. “And I think we have shown an unprecedented relationship between the executive of the Governor’s Mansion and the city of New York. And the only way we can get through this is that we’re going to continue to get through it together.”

The mayor didn’t go into specifics about the “philosophical disagreement” to which he referred. When asked by Politico reporter Jeff Coltin what he meant after the proceedings had concluded, Adams said “I think Virgos are better than her sign” — referring to both his and the governor’s zodiac signs.

However, another reporter pointed out that the governor’s Aug. 27 birthday means she, too, is a Virgo.

Specifics on aid request

Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams at a City Hall event
Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams at a July event at City Hall.File photo/Dean Moses

The mayor also more specifically stated the kind of help he’d like to see more of flowing from the administration’s of both President Biden and Hochul later in the meeting: resettling migrants to other municipalities around the country and state and more financial assistance.

Albany has so far given the city $1.5 billion in reimbursements for the costs of sheltering migrants, but the city already spent that much on the influx last year and projects spending as much as $12 billion on it by 2025.

“Absent a real just decompressing strategy and appropriate fiscal assistance from the federal and state governments, the city’s finances will be profoundly stretched in the coming months,” the mayor said.

Although the Hochul’s administration has accused Adams’ of mismanaging the migrant crisis thus far and failing to properly coordinate with the state, she lavished him with praise during the meeting.

In complementing the mayor’s response to the migrant tide, the governor compared it to the economic crisis that gripped the city during the 1970s.

“I think Mayor Adams and his team deserve tremendous credit for weathering a comparable crisis, which has befallen the city,” Hochul said. “And having to have such strong management during this particular situation, this humanitarian crisis, and managing the resources appropriately during this time, I think deserves a lot of credit.”

City Comptroller Brad Lander, who has found himself at odds with the mayor over his migrant crisis response on more than one occasion, urged both the federal and state governments to step up their effort to assist the five boroughs.

That included Lander reminding the rest of New York state he believes it is obligated, just like the city, to provide shelter to anyone seeking it under the 1981 consent decree Callahan v. Carey.

“Providing so many [migrants] with shelter is operationally demanding and extremely expensive,” Lander said. “That challenge is the intersection of the federal obligation to provide safe haven for those seeking asylum. With the obligation grounded in the New York State Constitution, albeit specified through a city-level consent decree to provide shelter to those who seek it. So we must work more ambitiously together across all three levels of government to rise to it.”