New York City

Eric Adams unapologetic for lack of transparency in his public schedules

The self-described “9-to-9” New York City Mayor said he never knows how his whereabouts and actions might change while doing city business.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams briefs the media Tuesday.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams briefs the media Tuesday. Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ public schedule isn’t a waltz – one, two, three, one, two, three – it’s a boogaloo, or a salsa, filled with improvisation. That was the mayor’s excuse for his administration’s lack of good record keeping about the meetings, calls and events he attends as mayor. And Adams made no apologies for limiting the amount of information released with his public schedules – an egregious rollback of the transparency provided by his predecessor, Bill de Blasio.

City & State wrote the first in-depth report on Adams’ public schedule for the first six months of his mayoralty – which were released this month in response to a Freedom of Information Law request. The reporting found that the calendar entries provided by City Hall fall short of even the bare minimum of transparency. Some entries were vague, withholding the name of who Adams was meeting with, and where. In other cases, the calendar was formatted in such a way that entries were cut off. Other meetings that Adams was known to have – such as dinner with former Gov. Andrew Cuomo – were left off the schedules entirely. 

At an unrelated press conference Tuesday in Inwood, City & State asked the mayor about the lack of transparency, and whether the public should know more about what he’s doing in his capacity as mayor. Adams dodged the question, pivoting to a point of pride – that he works hard, and will sometimes do site visits late into the night. 

Keeping a schedule is “very difficult on how I flow. I'm out, I have dinner, I leave the dinner, I'm going to hit the train stations. You can't plan for that,” he said. “I'm going to a NYCHA development and walk through. I want to see what it's like at 1 a.m. in the morning. Are we doing patrol? I mean you just can't plan for that. I'm going to visit a homeless shelter when I finish in City Hall at 2 a.m.”

If previous mayors were “9 to 5 guys” Adams is a “9 to 9 guy,” he said. “I think that you've had a lot of mayors that did the waltz. One, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three. I do the boogaloo. I salsa. So if you want to get through these next three years and three months, don't try to script me, because I told you all this when I was elected. If you try to script me, you're not going to get it right.”

Could his office just write that down retroactively, as de Blasio’s administration did, rather than provide a calendar that doesn’t reflect everything he does? Adams dodged again. 

“I don't know what I'm doing every night. I don't know what I'm doing after dinner. I don't know what I'm doing after having a cigar. I don't know what I'm doing,” he said. “I feel like, ‘you know what, Eric, I still feel like going and seeing the city. I feel like going and driving into Washington Heights and seeing, do we have a motorcycle problem?’ This is how I flow.”

A former press secretary to de Blasio, Bill Neidhardt, thought Adams was overstating his case. “The mayor travels with a professional security detail, and therefore nothing is done on the fly,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of work, foresight in getting someone to a gym across town, for example.” Neidhardt, now a progressive political consultant, said that even when things do happen on short notice, that’s no excuse for not reporting it on the schedule afterwards. “It’s either a deliberate lack of transparency, or incompetence.” Adams’ advance and communications teams are talented, and they “have a lot on their plate, but basic transparency should be (on it).”