New York City Mayor Eric Adams hopped on an Amtrak train and headed north Tuesday – all in a last-minute attempt to convince Albany lawmakers to support the city’s agenda before they end their annual session in two weeks.
Adams, a Democrat, worked the halls of the Legislative Office Building in Albany, darting from meeting to meeting with rank-and-file legislators. He was trying to win an extension of three soon-to-expire city programs: mayoral control of the school system, speed cameras in school zones and a lucrative tax break for housing developers.
It was a whirlwind trip. The mayor didn’t have an opportunity to meet with Gov. Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders, who were in Buffalo for a visit by President Joe Biden. And he took just a few brief questions from reporters as he rushed out of the building around 2:50 p.m., all in hopes of making a 3:10 p.m. train at the station across the Hudson River.
Adams acknowledged the issue of mayoral control – or as he calls it, “mayoral accountability” – dominated the closed-door talks with lawmakers. He left without any firm commitments, but he characterized the talks as positive.
“This was a good exchange of ideas,” Adams said as he was greeted with a swarm of cameras in a crowded hallway following his final meeting. “We took a lot of notes.”
Mayoral control of the largest public school system in the country is due to expire at the end of June, 20 years after Mayor Michael Bloomberg first won the ability to select a schools chancellor.
Adams is seeking a four-year extension of the policy, which – like many areas of New York City governance – requires Albany approval. He met Tuesday with the chairs of the state Legislature’s various education committees to make his case.
Senate Education Committee Chair Shelley Mayer, a Democrat representing Yonkers, said she had a “very productive meeting” with the mayor on mayoral control.
Mayer – who’s known Adams from her days as counsel for the Senate Democrats – acknowledged that some senators would like to see parents have a stronger institutional voice within the city’s school system. That request will be up for discussion before the legislative session concludes June 2nd.
“I think those of us who spoke to parents and other stakeholders are very mindful that parents’ voices are heard in an organizational way that works, and that there’s accountability,” Mayer said. “These are all factors that are going to go into the ultimate resolution of the issue.”
While Mayer said their conversation about mayoral control Tuesday was positive, she noted state Sen. John Liu – the Queens Democrat who chairs the Senate’s New York City education commission – will be taking the lead on the issue.
Adams’ visit wasn’t limited only to mayoral control.
The state law authorizing the city’s 2,000 speed cameras in school zones is set to expire July 1st, while the controversial 421-a tax abatement – a tax break for housing developers who commit to a certain percentage of affordable units – will expire June 15th.
Adams said he also spoke with lawmakers regarding issues related to public housing, though he didn’t elaborate. As Adams was met with some lawmakers, Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright met with others about bills on the city’s agenda.
“We heard some great ideas around education, some great ideas around NYCHA, some great ideas around public safety,” Adams told reporters.