Come Jan. 1, Mayor-elect Eric Adams will be handed the keys to City Hall — and a heap of problems left behind by Mayor Bill de Blasio, including a crime surge, union resistance over the COVID-19 mandate and $5 billion budget deficit, to name a few.
“Eric acknowledged in his victory speech that there are a lot of challenges in New York City,” said former city Councilman David Greenfield, who heads the anti-poverty group Met Council.
“From public safety to budget issues to housing, we could certainly use the kind of vision and focus that he brings to the job.”
He added, “There are a lot of hopes that are riding on his mayoralty. Some mayors start with one or two challenges — he’s starting out with a half dozen.”
Here’s a look at the mixed bag of problems Adams is inheriting from his predecessor:
There have been 1,324 shootings across the five boroughs so far this year, which is not only up from the 1,299 reported over the same 10-month period last year, it’s still more than double the rate seen in New York City pre-pandemic.
And the city’s murder rate is set to exceed 400 for the second year in a row for the first time since 2010 and 2011.
Meanwhile, the NYPD is still trying to repair its relationships with city lawmakers and minority neighborhoods after its handling of last summer’s George Floyd protests.
“He’s got a much higher shooting and homicide rate. He’s got morale issues in the department,” said Chris Herrmann, an associate professor at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who was once a crime statistics expert at the NYPD.
And, he added, “He’s going to have to figure out how to recruit in a community with fractured relationships.”
Adams, a former NYPD captain, has pledged to bring back and reform the NYPD’s controversial ant-crime unit to crack down on drug and gun violence.
“It’s going to be a tug of war,” said Maria Haberfeld, who teaches police science at John Jay. “The challenge for Adams will be to bring back aggressive policing tactics, while not throwing out the progress from the last eight years.”
Hizzoner’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for city workers has forced a showdown with FDNY unions, with the number of smoke eaters calling in sick more than double the usual levels on the first day of the order alone.
Officials have described it as an organized sick-out, which the unions have denied.
Sanitation workers also staged a slowdown that left trash piling up in southern Brooklyn and on Staten Island for days, forcing officials to order Sunday shifts to get caught up.
And thousands of cops have filed for medical exemptions, which will take weeks to process.
De Blasio and health officials have defended the mandate, pointing out that they’ve pushed the overall vaccination rate to 92 percent of city workers with at least one shot.
Adams backs the mandate but has said that he would have struck deals with municipal labor unions before implementing them.
The vaccination order has big name supporters among the city’s civil rights activists who want to see officials do even more.
“We’re not out of the woods with COVID in the black and brown communities,” said Hazel Dukes, the longtime head of the New York state chapter of the NAACP. “[Adams] will have to address the continued need for people to get vaccinated.”
“I’ve been vaccinated since I was a child. I didn’t die,” she added. “This issue should have never been turned into a political football.”
A vacant Midtown
Only about a third of Manhattan’s office workers have returned to their desks in the office as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play out.
“It’s gonna be a big challenge,” said Kathy Wylde, the head of the Partnership for New York City, a voice for the Big Apple’s business community. “There are more uncertainties facing the city than since immediately following 9/11.”
If the shift to remote work remains permanent, it could shake property values in Manhattan and push more New Yorkers to reconsider whether the city’s amenities — its museums, theaters, restaurants and bustle — outweigh its costs in high taxes and expensive rents.
“They don’t have to pay a premium to live close to their job in the city anymore,” she added.
Those declines in property evaluations are partially responsible for deficits Adams will face as soon as he steps in the door at City Hall, which the Citizens Budget Commission estimates already reach $5 billion annually.
De Blasio’s most recent budget came in at a record-setting $98.7 billion — floated in large part by a massive injection of COVID-19 aid from a federal rescue package.
“He needs to close that budget gap and the best way to do it is to have more efficient services rather than service cuts,” said Andrew Rein, the CBC’s president. “We need to prioritize — focus on what’s important and deliver it in the most efficient way. The alternative is to massively cut services or have tax increases.”
Adams will have to lean on his days as a transit cop to tackle ongoing issues of crime and mental illness in the subway system.
A 50 percent spike in thefts targeting city straphangers drove an overall increase in felony subway crime in September, according to NYPD data — reversing months of declines after Hizzoner finally boosted patrols during rush hour.
City Hall’s decision to send another 250 patrols underground came after a string of vicious attacks spurred a war of words between the MTA and de Blasio, with the MTA accusing the mayor of “negligence.”
The transit agency later credited the influx of cops with reducing the crime rate over the summer — until the recent uptick in pickpocketing below ground.