“When does the hard part start?” – Eric Adams
While New York City avoided the massive flooding that swept across upstate this week, the West Wing in City Hall is taking on water.
July has been a cruel month for Mayor Eric Adams. The New York Times reported that mayoral staffers staff doctored a photograph on his behalf, turning a minor fib into a major gaffe. Fueled by a migrant surge, homelessness is at record levels. Six Adams supporters – including a retired police commander – were indicted for an alleged straw donor scheme connected to Adams’ 2021 mayoral campaign. A federal monitor is all but saying the city’s jails on Rikers Island are being run into the ground. And meanwhile, the NYPD is without a permanent leader after Commissioner Keechant Sewell suddenly resigned.
Perhaps praying for help, the mayor headed to church last Sunday, speaking with fiery passion at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn.
All but declaring he’s on a mission from God and continuing to obliterate any line dividing church and state, the mayor said his achievements are largely being overlooked, noting that crime is going down, jobs are returning to the city, and he’s reached contract deals with almost every municipal union.
“They want to paint this picture of ineptness and incompetence,” the mayor told the enthusiastic crowd, without saying who “they” is.
Finally facing questions from reporters on Monday after avoiding them for a week, the mayor again said his achievements are being ignored by his critics.
“What I find is: When do the goalposts stop moving?” he said.
Somewhere, maybe buried under the goalposts, Bill de Blasio is likely laughing. The former mayor still has some scars after being batted around like a giant piñata by the New York media for eight years. And almost every single New York City mayor in modern times would complain about the raw deal they received at the hands of the press. And the complaints rarely helped them.
Politics by grievance can work – but usually only with your supporters. They think: “He’s a whiner but he’s our whiner!” But those who aren’t in your corner will just see a whiner.
If you’ve watched City Hall over the last 10 years, you’d be forgiven if you got whiplash. Bill de Blasio often seemed like the saddest resident of Gracie Mansion, yearning more for a good meeting with the voters of Iowa and a nice workout in the Y in Brooklyn. Enter Eric Adams, who seems like the happiest man to be mayor since Ed Koch.
But if you look at Adams’ daily public schedule, it often feels like it’s a mile wide and an inch thick. De Blasio had no time for pomp and circumstance while Adams has too much of it.
Adams would be best advised to avoid the Huey Long-style demagoguery and maybe find a little inner Ross Perot and wonk out a little bit more. The goalposts in City Hall never really move.