‘Excessively bureaucratic’: Speaker Adams tells City Council members to ignore City Hall communication form

Speaker Adams
City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams.
Credit John McCarten/NYC Council Media Unit

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams on Wednesday emailed her members instructing them to ignore a new form Mayor Eric Adams’ administration is requesting elected officials complete in order to get meetings with city officials.

The move, which was first reported on Tuesday by THE CITY, further escalates already existing tensions between the two sides of City Hall over a growing list of issues including how to shape the city budget, police accountability efforts, migrant relief, and laws expanding housing voucher access

In the speaker’s late Wednesday afternoon email, reviewed by amNewYork Metro, she blasted the two-page online “Elected Officials Agency Engagement Request” form as a hindrance to quick and effective governance. In addition to meetings with commissioners and executive staff, the mayor’s office is requiring council members — as well as other elected officials in the state legislature or Congress — to complete the form if they are seeking district tours, to attend an event, taskforce meetings and several other kinds of engagements.

“You may have seen reports in the media about a new form the administration is requesting elected officials to fill out in order to access commissioners and the executive staff of agencies,” the speaker wrote. “The Council will not be adhering to this excessively bureaucratic and inefficient process that only undermines the work of city government on behalf of New Yorkers.”

The mayor’s office, for its part, argues the form is actually aimed at “streamlining services and maximizing resources.”

City Hall spokesperson Liz Garcia, in a statement, said the form has already been utilized by many pols over the past few days.

“Several elected officials — including councilmembers — are already effectively using this process, and, as the mayor said today, we are confident that this will allow city agencies to better coordinate their efforts and more efficiently use their time,” she said.

Failure to communicate internally?

Rendy Desamours, a City Council spokesperson, added in a statement that the form undermines the Adams administration’s long-stated goal of making government more efficient and could leave New Yorkers waiting longer for a resolution to their problems. He also charged City Hall should improve its internal communications, instead of putting the problem on other branches of government. 

“If the administration wants to better manage coordination with its agencies, it should improve its own internal communication in a streamlined way rather than attempting to issue directives to other branches of government for communicating with public officials, which is highly inappropriate, inefficient, and can interfere with oversight,” Desamours said.

The form quickly drew the ire of multiple council members when it was first revealed on Tuesday. Even NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban is not a fan of the form, according to a report from the Daily News

Council Member Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn) said the move amounts to the city shirking its responsibility to directly respond to those who represent its residents.

“Being told to fill out a form just feels like a kiss off,” he said, in a text message. “It would be like me telling a constituent who called my office looking for help to hang up and call 311.”

Council Member Keith Powers (D-Manhattan) said he is concerned it will slow his office’s ability to respond to constituent requests.

“Our constituents want us to move quickly when there’s an issue to address in the community,” Powers said, in a text message. “This process completely undermines that urgency.”