Mayor Eric Adams often likes to say that New York City is a city of 8.9 million people and “35 million opinions." But there are some opinions that appear to get under his skin.
During his first year, he bemoaned press coverage he viewed as racially biased and overly negative, with an emphasis on crime and dysfunction.
Now, days into his second year, Adams lambasted officials from former Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration during an unprompted six-minute rant, accusing them of publicly criticizing his policies. He called such comments “unacceptable” and a departure from the conduct of members of prior administrations.
“Once they’re gone, they’re experts on everything,” the mayor said of the officials following an unrelated news conference on Wednesday.
He cited his decisions around COVID-19 as an example.
“We must have been two months into office, and they were criticizing everything we did,” he said.
“I don't remember an administration in history that says, ‘We want a full-frontal assault,’” he continued. He argued that in contrast, members of other mayoral administrations going back to Ed Koch had reached out and offered to help.
“This is not acceptable,” he said, later adding, “I deserve better from a former administration.”
The iconoclastic Democrat's grievances come as he enters the sophomore year of a mayoralty staked on reducing crime and reviving the city’s economy, both of which have had uneven progress. The mayor has at times been defensive toward criticisms by the press and progressive lawmakers and activists.
At the same time, he has not been shy about raising the public’s expectations or exhibiting what he describes as “swagger.” Heading into 2023, Adams has promised to deliver an “Aaron Judge year,” a reference to the Yankees' star slugger.
During his comments on Wednesday, Adams was careful to say that he was not directing his complaints at his predecessor, former Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been noticeably reticent about Adams and his policies, which have included shrinking the expansion of his signature pre-K program.
Adams himself has often said that he was handed a crisis by the former administration, an assertion he reiterated on Wednesday. “They left the house in total disarray,” he said.
Adams said that he had called de Blasio to address the issue.
“All these other administrations have come together and said we want to help the city we love,” he said. “And that was my message to the former mayor.”
On Wednesday evening, de Blasio issued his own statement on Twitter emphasizing that “no one speaks for me but me.”
The former mayor said he had spoken with Adams on Wednesday afternoon and added that he had offered to help him “in many forms over the last year and a half.” De Blasio had been reported as offering Adams behind-the-scenes support during the latter’s 2021 campaign.
De Blasio, however, made a point of thanking members of his own administration.
“Finally, for all the members of my team who served this city with tremendous devotion, especially during the pandemic, I want to thank you. You made this city better,” he tweeted.
Adams did not mention any of the ex-officials by name but referred to Bill Neidhardt, a former de Blasio press secretary who currently works as a progressive Democratic strategist.
Neidhardt has been openly critical of the mayor’s decisions and policies. Most recently, he was among those who skewered Adams for leaving the city for a two-day vacation during severe weather and flooding conditions.
“Adams needs to make a New Year’s resolution to take his job seriously,” he wrote on Twitter.
The mayor shot back on Wednesday, describing Neidhardt as the “worst comms guy in the history of communication.”
Neidhardt wasted little time in embracing the insult by changing his Twitter handle to “Bill ‘the worst communications guy’ Neidhardt.”
In an interview with Gothamist, Neidhardt said he was caught off-guard by Adams’ comments.
He said he didn’t see any political purpose to using the bully pulpit of the mayor’s office for “complaining about people who have policy differences.”
“I don’t know if he has a fundamental misunderstanding of the job he signed up for if he thinks New Yorkers are going to be quiet as he slashes school budgets,” Neidhardt added, referring to the mayor’s decision to cut funding toward city schools.
He then added: “News flash: we’re not going to be.”
The article has been updated with comments from former Mayor Bill de Blasio.