New York City

Eric Adams’ first week: An icy reception from labor, a cozy appearance with Hochul

The mayor continued to build out his staff, boost law enforcement, and practice healthy habits.

Here’s how Eric Adams “got stuff done” during his first week in office as New York City’s newest mayor.

Here’s how Eric Adams “got stuff done” during his first week in office as New York City’s newest mayor. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Eric Adams certainly lived up to his signature promise to “get stuff done” during his first week on the job – though not all of that stuff was popular.

The early-morning mayor hit the press circuit hard this week, but perhaps he’s not as sharp as he claims to be at that hour. In one of his worst moments of the past seven days, Adams commented on CNN’s “New Day” about the disadvantages faced by “low-skill workers.” The remark, repeated at an afternoon press conference in which he specifically called out Dunkin’ Donuts employees, cooks, dishwashers and shoe shiners, quickly made national headlines – from Teen Vogue to the Los Angeles Times –  and not in a good way. 

In one of his better showings, Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul promised to turn a new leaf on the contentious relationship shared by their predecessors, Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio. The new leaders appeared together to present a plan to tackle homelessnes on the subways, and made sure to highlight the relative novelty of the joint appearance, declaring it a “new day” for New York. 

Adams’ battle with labor this week stretched beyond his “low-skill” worker comments, which drew the ire of mammoth national union conglomeration, the AFL-CIO. His first Monday as mayor coincided with the first day back from winter break for schools, much to the chagrin of the teachers’ union, which has called for remote learning until stricter COVID testing mandates are implemented. Adams remained fervent in his commitment to keep schools open, despite more than 30% of students being absent on Monday and more than 14,000 students and staff reporting COVID-positive tests over winter break.  

While teachers continued their outcry throughout the week, union leadership committed to carrying out Adams’ plan to maintain in-classroom instruction. And despite a lawsuit from 11 UFT members against the district seeking a remote option, Adams said he was in “lockstep” with UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who did not deny Adams’ characterization. 

Adams’ “Stay Safe and Stay Open” plan for schools extended to businesses as well. In the CNN appearance, Adams demanded the city’s big banks get back to work. 

"That accountant from a bank that sits in an office, it's not only him. It feeds our financial ecosystem. He goes to the cleaners to get his suits cleaned. He goes to the restaurant. He brings in a business traveler, which is 70% of our hotel occupancy. He buys a hot dog on our streets, I hope a vegan hot dog, but he participates in the economy,” he said. 

From a policy standpoint, Adams signed a “Small Business Forward” Executive Order that seeks to reduce unnecessary fines and summonses. He also announced an additional $111 million in new funding to public hospitals and a $27 million loan to private safety-net hospitals in an effort to address the ongoing COVID-19 surge.

His staff continued to grow. On Friday, he confirmed the long-awaited, albeit controversial, appointment of Philip Banks III as deputy mayor of public safety. Banks’ brother, David Banks, is Adams’ new schools chancellor. Phillip, who has been working in One Police Plaza in an advisory capacity to Adams, left the New York City Police Department while he was subject of an FBI probe that found he accepted gifts from corrupt businessmen seeking a favorable relationship with cops. 

The retired-cop-turned-mayor’s focus on law enforcement continued to be on full display. Just hours after his New Year’s Eve appointment, one of Adams’ first public moves as mayor was to call 911 on a fight he witnessed from the subway platform. And on Tuesday, news surfaced that the city’s jails watchdog had been fired by Adams’ newly appointed Department of Correction Commissioner Louis Molina, a staffing move that the Correction Officers Benevolent Association Union said would boost officer morale.

There were some lighter moments during Adams’ first week as well. A tongue-in-cheek Twitter account to chronicle the vegan mayor’s meals, meditation habits and go-getter mentality quickly rose to social media fame. “Multi-tasking as @NYCMayor means conference calls alongside smoothie-making. It’s about getting stuff done,” the Adams staffer who manages the account, Rachel Atcheson, wrote, along with a photo of Adams packing spinach and blueberries into a blending cup.