A Balancing Act for the New City Council Leader

Good morning. Today we’ll look at New York City’s new City Council speaker, Adrienne Adams, and the key role she could play in efforts to address crime. We’ll also look at the strange political bedfellows created by a newly redrawn congressional district.

Credit…Desiree Rios for The New York Times

A spate of attacks in New York City’s subway system over the weekend has reinforced how challenging a problem crime has been for Mayor Eric Adams in the weeks since he took office.

It also highlights how crucial it may be for Mr. Adams, in his efforts to implement tougher crime strategies, to have the support of another powerful city official also new to her role: Adrienne Adams, the new speaker of the City Council.

On Friday, Mr. Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a new plan to address homelessness in the subways, just before violence erupted again over the weekend with at least eight attacks in the system.

Although none were fatal, some of the victims were hospitalized. Few arrests have been made, my colleague Jonah Bromwich reported.

Mr. Adams has supported several tough crime-fighting initiatives, including the return of plainclothes anti-gun squads in the city’s Police Department, as well as the stiffening of bail laws and the prosecution of minors charged with serious crimes.

But these hard-line strategies do not appeal to all Council members, leaving Ms. Adams to strike a delicate political balance.

In a City Council composed of a majority of women and people of color, Ms. Adams — who has served as chairwoman of the powerful Black, Latino and Asian Caucus — has to walk a line between democratic socialist members who want to defund the police and other members whose constituents are pressing for crackdowns on crime.

So she could become a key ally for Mr. Adams, as budget negotiations with the City Council commence and legislation is introduced to end the use of solitary confinement and eliminate the gang database.

The speaker’s nuanced record on crime

Over the years, Ms. Adams, a centrist Democrat and no relation to Mr. Adams, has stood against police violence. She joined the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network after police officers killed Amadou Diallo in 1999, and she remains friends with the family of Sean Bell, who was killed by the police in 2006.

But as a city councilwoman, she has opposed the movement to defund the police and has said that many residents of mostly Black and Latino neighborhoods affected by gun violence do not want a reduced police presence.

“We need to be in partnership with the N.Y.P.D. to let them know that we need community policing, that we shouldn’t be fighting each other and that we need to work together to help make our community safe,” Ms. Adams told my colleague Jeff Mays.

She has also shown a willingness to side with her members against City Hall, such as when Mr. Adams lashed out at 29 council members who criticized his intention to restore solitary confinement to the city’s jails.

A more sober start than her predecessor

Ms. Adams, the first Black City Council speaker, has begun her role with less fanfare than her predecessor, Corey Johnson, who in his first weeks on the job danced in a cameo appearance on a television news weather report and posted a video of himself singing along to Lady Gaga.

In contrast, Ms. Adams has made several appearances related to high-profile crimes. Last month, she spoke at a memorial for Michelle Alyssa Go, who was shoved to her death at the Times Square subway station. She then appeared at a vigil for an 11-month old girl who was shot in the face in the Bronx.

Days later, Ms. Adams attended the separate funerals of two police officers who were killed in Harlem.

The announcement Friday by Mr. Adams and Ms. Hochul included a plan to create an “omnipresence” of police in the subway, with the deployment of officers and mental health workers in teams in an effort to remove the more than 1,000 homeless people who regularly shelter in the subway system.

Little pattern to the weekend’s attacks

But only two of the weekend’s eight attacks involved homeless people — one of whom was a victim, the other an assailant, the police said. Several of the incidents involved robberies or disputes aboard trains, and it was unclear whether or how mental illness played a role in any of them.

There was little pattern to the attacks, which the police said spanned Friday evening, when a 31-year-old man was stabbed in the left forearm in Morningside Heights on a southbound 1 train by a man he had asked to stop smoking, to early Monday morning, when a 30-year-old woman was struck in the face with a small metal pipe on a southbound 4 train in the Bronx.


Prepare for the rain, New York. Expect it in the afternoon through the evening, with steady temps in mid- to high 50s. At night, there will be wind gusts and patchy fog.

alternate-side parking

In effect until March 2 (Ash Wednesday).

The latest New York news

  • Workers at nearly two dozen American art museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Guggenheim, have created collective bargaining units in recent years to push for better pay and working conditions.

  • Amber Gray, who has played Persephone in “Hadestown” in three countries and four productions, is leaving to join a new “Macbeth” on Broadway.

  • At the elite Collegiate School in Manhattan, a battle over race, tradition and a school mascot.

Park Slope and Staten Island: an unlikely political marriage

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

New congressional maps recently drawn up by Democratic leaders have suddenly made strange bedfellows of politically disparate neighborhoods.

N.Y.C. Mayor Eric Adams’s New Administration

Card 1 of 8

Schools Chancellor: David Banks. The longtime New York City educator, who rose to prominence after creating a network of public all-boys schools, takes the lead at the nation’s largest public school system as it struggles to emerge from the pandemic.

Police Commissioner: Keechant Sewell. The Nassau County chief of detectives becomes New York City’s first female police commissioner, taking over the nation’s largest police force amid ​​a crisis of trust in American policing and a troubling rise in violence.

Commissioner of Correction Department: Louis Molina. ​​The former N.Y.P.D. officer, who was the chief of the Las Vegas public safety department, is tasked with leading the city’s embattled Correction Department and restoring order at the troubled Rikers Island jail complex.

Chief Counsel: Brendan McGuire. ​​After a stint as a partner in a law firm’s white-collar practice, the former federal prosecutor returns to the public sector to advise the mayor on legal matters involving City Hall, the executive staff and administrative matters.

Transportation Commissioner: Ydanis Rodriguez. ​​The Manhattan council member is a trusted ally of Mr. Adams. Mr. Rodriguez will face major challenges in his new role: In 2021, traffic deaths in the city soared to their highest level since 2013, partly due to speeding and reckless driving.

Health Commissioner: Dr. Ashwin Vasan. Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, the current commissioner, stays in the role to provide continuity to the city’s pandemic response. In mid-March, Dr. Vasan, the president of a mental health and public health charity, will take over.

Deputy mayors. ​​Mr. Adams announced five women as deputy mayors, including Lorraine Grillo as his top deputy. Philip Banks III, a former N.Y.P.D. chief who resigned while under federal investigation in 2014, later announced his own appointment as deputy mayor for public safety.

Executive director of mayoral security: Bernard Adams. Amid concerns of nepotism, Mayor Adams’s brother, who is a retired police sergeant, will oversee mayoral security after he was originally named as deputy police commissioner.

Behold the newly reconstituted 11th Congressional District, now shared by some of the city’s most conservative voting blocs, on Staten Island, and liberal ones in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

“They put two communities together that have literally nothing in common other than they happen to all live in the same city,” said City Councilman David Carr, a Staten Island Republican. “In terms of values, in terms of interests, they couldn’t be further apart. And they’ve created a district that’s going to be permanently at war with itself.”

For years, the district has been anchored in Staten Island, sprinkled with parts of more conservative southern Brooklyn enclaves. But the Brooklyn portion now includes more neighborhoods with wealthy liberal voters and younger left-wing activists.

To capture reaction, my colleague Katie Glueck spoke to voters at the Park Slope Food Coop, the famously liberal Brooklyn grocery where, as Katie wrote, “social consciousness pervades every aisle.”

Regarding Staten Island, “I hate to say it, they’re one of the five boroughs, but it’s almost like they’re an outlier,” said Pamela Plunkett, 57, a Park Sloper, adding that she was “worried about being grouped in with them.”

Across the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, Katie also spoke to diners at the Original Goodfella’s, a well-known Staten Island pizzeria graced with photographs of Republican politicians.

Carlo D’Angelo, 28, a Trump supporter, defined Park Slope as “more of a younger crowd with yuppies, hipsters.” Asked about who won the 2020 presidential election, Mr. D’Angelo said, “Only the man in the sky, only God, knows.”

Bill de Blasio, a Park Slope resident who until recently was considering running as a Democrat to represent the district, is immortalized at Goodfella’s, which keeps a framed display of the fork the former mayor used to eat pizza instead of grabbing his slice by hand. He never lived that down.

What we’re reading

  • Curbed interviewed Kareem Rahma, a comedian based in Brooklyn, who, after posting a sign in his building about a missing New York Magazine issue, launched a sign feud between neighbors.

  • A New York City firefighter was arrested on charges of purchasing an assault weapon and gun parts from a Philadelphia gun show and smuggling them back to the city.



Dear Diary:

Called to jury duty in Manhattan, I found myself among a group of people being asked about our backgrounds by a judge trying to determine whether we were qualified to serve.

When it was my turn, I explained that I was a theatrical producer.

The judge ultimately excused many of us, but as I was leaving, the clerk asked whether I would wait in an adjoining room. The judge wanted to see me.

I was unnerved. What had I done?

A half-hour later, the judge appeared with a thick manila envelope. In it was a script he had written. He asked if I would read it and give him my comments.

— Rodger Hess

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.

Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — C.K.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

Melissa Guerrero, Olivia Parker and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].


Related Articles

Check Also
Back to top button