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This Month in Eric Adams: The Mayor Extends the Blue Wall of Silence to the Whole of City Government

Adams reverses a de Blasio-era rule requiring top mayoral officials to disclose meetings with lobbyists while his lawyers tutor administration employees in the new omerta.

John Teufel Apr 1

For previous monthly columns by John Teufel, see “Eric Adams Weird and Wild First Month” and “This Month in Eric Adams: A Fishy Food Story, More Policing and a Taste for Homophobes

Of all the possible prisms through which we can view Eric Adams, possibly the least useful is “man of contradictions,” which has of course become the primary way mainstream journalists approach the man.

This is foolish for a few reasons. First, we are, all of us, persons of surface-level contradiction. I am a lawyer and an anarchist, a sober alcoholic. Weird! But these apparent contradictions are really quite explicable, even natural, with two seconds of critical thought. Second, apparent contradictions are only illuminative in so far as we engage in that critical study instead of throwing our hands up and saying, “Complicated guy!” Third, and most importantly, Eric Adams is not a man of contradictions, he’s just a nutty fascist.

I thought about this while reading Adams’ March 11 thinkpiece du jour, a long Politico profile by Ruby Cramer. It’s an engaging read, and Cramer deserves credit for capturing Adams’ weirdness — her piece is teeming with jaw dropping examples of how woowoo Adams can be, like his belief that New York derives “energy” from a store of rare underground gems. But Cramer opens with a list of alleged Adams contradictions, and never wanders too far from that theme, ultimately landing on Adams as “perfectly imperfect” and “complicated,” a cipher, really, and a man fundamentally devoid of ideology. If Adams is able to dupe people into believing this, we’ve already lost.

Adams was molded by the cultish, oppressive ethos of law enforcement. His cop ideology is apparent even on issues that don’t directly involve public safety. 

Because the truth is, Adams has been remarkably consistent in his tenure as mayor, even to the point of mindlessness. Consider how he handled the sad story of Camrin Williams, aka C Blu, who — in the initial propaganda narrative set forth by Adams — shot a cop. Bad boy, brave cops. As it turned out, Williams was illegally searched, and even still, cooperated fully with officers. His gun went off accidentally during the search. The cops — “my police,” as Adams likes to say — lied, for which a judge admonished them before sending the case to Family Court. Did Adams retreat, admit error or show some of that famously complex nature that journalists insist is his metaphysical essence? No, he blamed people for “demonizing” the cop, who, again, illegally searched a kid, got himself shot and lied about it.

The Williams story is absent from Cramer’s piece, surely, to make room to describe Adams’ meditation regime (it involves breathing). Cramer did include the truly psychotic scene of Adams buying spinach from a produce vendor and saying it makes him feel like he’s in Paris, but somehow missed the arguably bigger story of the Adams austerity budget, beyond a brief note that Adams is trying to “reduce government waste” —  yes, it really is not a great article.

That said, I sympathize with Cramer. Writing anything about Adams (including this piece) can feel Sisyphean, because every week he does something that completely resets the consensus about the scariest thing Adams has done, and you need to rethink the whole shebang. In March, that honor has to go to his admonition against filming the police. Flanked by uniforms at a press conference, Adams classed filming cops as being “on top of” them and warned it “won’t be tolerated.”

This is not surprising because Adams is not surprising. He will always protect the NYPD, even at the expense of looking like a fool or a dictator. Journalists, you don’t need Hegel’s dialectic to parse this stuff. It is exactly what it feels like: the authoritarian impulses of a man who spent 22 years in the bowels of a violent, corrupt police force with a budget bigger than the military expenditures of most countries. Adams was molded by the cultish, oppressive ethos of law enforcement.

Mayor Eric Adams speaks at the NYPD Holy Name Society breakfast on Sunday, arch 13, 2022. Photo: NYC Mayor’s Office.

Adams’ cop ideology is apparent even on issues that don’t directly involve public safety. One hallmark of his first few months has been making the blue wall of silence surround not just the NYPD, but the whole of government. In March, Adams reversed a de Blasio-era rule requiring top mayoral officials to disclose meetings with lobbyists. Given that de Blasio was already unimaginably corrupt, this bodes poorly. Equally interesting is the language used by the Mayor’s lawyers in announcing the new policy of omerta — administration employees are gently reminded that written communications are subject to FOIL disclosure, which anyone with two brain cells left understands is code for “don’t leave a paper trail.” In the NYPD, Adams learned that the public is on a “need-to-know” basis, that lies are an effective means of civilian control, that one does not rat on one’s fellow soldiers. He has imported that philosophy to his mayoralty.

We can expect the NYPD to become even more of a black box under Adams. The rebranded anti-crime teams were let loose this month. Since Adams has made such a big deal about picking the best, most ethical officers for this assignment, I decided to send a Freedom of Information request to the NYPD asking for a list of the officers so assigned. It was denied. So the official position of the NYPD is that the public is not allowed to know the identities of officers on these “neighborhood safety teams,” even though the whole justification of this unit is so-called “community policing,” which is imagined as the friendly beat cop whistling down the street and buying ice cream cones for children. 

 If you’re a Democrat in NYC, and you reach a certain level of power, you are nearly invincible, because other Democrats fear your vengeance, and we have no functioning opposition party. 

That Adams is habitually cagey and corrupt may eventually lead to his downfall. He is egregious and uncareful. Even for New York politics, his stench is strong. Adams announced his cold-blooded crackdown on the homeless — not homelessness, but actual unhoused people —  at a luncheon for real estate titans, so there was no ambiguity about whether this was the landlords’ return on campaign donations. And did you know that Eric Adams’ “international affairs coordinator” (Ruby Cramer, government waste alert!) is a mobbed up longtime lackey for Russian oligarchs? Or how about Frank Carone, Adams’ chief of staff, a notorious Brooklyn Democratic fixer and lawyer whose prior occupation was donating to politicians overseeing his clients’ business interests?

Here’s the thing about our city. If you’re a Democrat, and you reach a certain level of power, you are nearly invincible, because other Democrats fear your vengeance, and we have no functioning opposition party. But what our local politicians should understand — what the city council, in particular, should understand — is that Adams will eventually bring himself down, and the tidal wave created by his fall will sweep away everyone close to him. He is reckless and ego-driven, convinced of his own greatness. Never throw your lot in with someone who buys his own bullshit.

The city council’s resistance to Adams has been minimal and sporadic. Eleven councilmembers have teamed up with People’s Plan NYC, a coalition of organizers offering an alternative to Adams’ Reaganist austerity budget. Other than that, opposition has come from individuals — Brooklyn’s Shahana Hanif opposing the appointment of anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic Kings County relic Laurie Cumbo; Tiffany Caban and Charles Barron aggressively questioning NYPD propaganda in Council hearings. There are others, but if the only politicians willing to stand up to Adams are the socialists, I am sorry to say it, but he will have his way with our city. The left doesn’t have the numbers.

It is time, three months in, to imagine what a viable resistance to Adams looks like, both on the ground and in the chambers of power. 

Photo: @nbkessentials on Instagram.

In the 1970s, New York began its transition from a union town with a strong social safety net to its current form as a big hedge fund with parks. We have never recovered. If it seems inconceivable that New York could get more expensive, the police more powerful, the rich richer and life even more of a struggle — conceive it. Eric Adams is not a cipher; he is the natural endpoint of decades of free market dogma, copaganda and brainless-liberal identity politics. He is also a transformative figure for New York. He needs to be fought at every turn, or we will sink deeper into the morass of soulless corporate neoliberalism. See you next month, and please, stay safe.

BUT WAIT… As this piece was going to press, Adams’s NYPD and sanitation department razed the shelters of homeless people across the city, throwing their beds and belongings into garbage trucks like mulch. The night before this destruction of property — which would be a crime if you or I did it — Adams partied with Dr. Oz and Cara Delevinge (respectively, a Republican and a corrupt landlord) at a Wells Fargo party to promote paying rent by credit card. I do believe that Adams is enjoying every minute of this. He is just the sort of vapid starfucker whose ego would be sated by flexing his monopoly on violence at the same time he luxuriates in fame (kind of) and privilege. He is not a good person.

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