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Mayor, speaker at odds over Hizzoner’s request to halve the council’s discretionary funds amid migrant crisis

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. (Photo Courtesy of John McCarten/NYC Council Media Unit)

Dec. 21, 2022 By Ethan Stark-Miller

Mayor Eric Adams and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (no relation) are at odds over the mayor’s suggestion that the council cut its nearly $600 million discretionary budget in half as a means of fiscal belt-tightening amid the growing expense of the migrant crisis currently engulfing the Big Apple.

The discretionary funds are distributed among the city’s 51 council members and go towards funding non-profit organizations that provide district-specific services and run initiatives. Hizzoner first revealed he was making the request in an interview with the New York Post Editorial Board Tuesday, noting that his office had sent a letter to the speaker’s, asking for the cuts.

However, council leadership didn’t receive the letter until late Tuesday night, after the Post had revealed the missive, which amNewYork Metro verified by viewing the email.

The speaker’s office issued a strongly worded rebuke of the mayor’s request on Tuesday night, along with his decision to share it with the Post Editorial Board first. Speaker Adams struck a similar tone while taking questions from reporters during an unrelated press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

“We were quite surprised that the mayor seemed to want to renegotiate the budget with the New York Post Editorial Board, that’s not exactly how city government works,” Speaker Adams said. “We cannot allow the mayor’s suggestion that we cut a lifeline to communities stand as a viable option. These are service providers. Viable, needed service providers that provide the lifeline to New Yorkers in need.”

Not only are the non-profit service providers – which are funded by the discretionary pot – essential to providing support for communities of color across the city, the speaker said, but they’ve also been a key part of addressing the over 31,000 migrants who’ve come here since April.

“This council funds all nonprofit organizations, all service providers that are relied on by communities across the city, especially black and brown communities, Asian communities, immigrant communities, LGBTQIA plus communities,” the speaker told reporters. “In fact, [they’re] the organizations doing the lion’s share of work to address the asylum seeker crisis, especially since many of our city agencies are understaffed and under-resourced.”

The speaker also argued the cuts aren’t necessary now that it looks like the city will nab a sizable chunk of $800 million in federal relief funds for cities on the front lines of the migrant crisis through an omnibus spending bill likely to pass Congress this week.

The dust up between the two sides of City Hall followed two full days of City Council hearings examining the administration’s handling of the migrant crisis, which the speaker and many council members have been quite critical of.

During the mayor’s own unrelated news conference Wednesday afternoon, he pushed back on the speaker’s comments that he was negotiating the budget with the Post Editorial Board saying.

“I was asked a question and I answered,” he said. “It wasn’t negotiating the budget. I’m pretty sure they’re asked questions and they answer them.”

Mayor Eric Adams with Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell at City Hall on Wednesday. (Photo by Matt Tracy)

Additionally, the mayor said his suggestion that the council halve their discretionary spending was simply a request for them to participate more in the city’s response to the migrant crisis. He claimed were several unnamed council members suggestions during the hearings that the city provide asylum seekers with a suite of free perks on the city’s dime.

“I’m hearing people are saying ‘give free telephones, give free MetroCards,’” he lamented. “Everyday New Yorkers don’t have free telephones. Everyday New Yorkers don’t have free MetroCards. Everyday New Yorkers are not given free places to live. So, when the council stated, and some of the members stated, ‘we need to give everything free,’ I’m saying ‘you guys have a half a billion dollars in discretionary dollars, if you really feel as though we should be giving free, then can you voluntarily give us 50% of what you’re doing so we can do this together?’”

This story first appeared on amny.com.

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19 Comments

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Yolanda

That would be nice. But first they need to diversify staff to reflect our diverse community and hire staff 8fluent in spanish. Just translating mailings and posters about events and fund raisers is not enough.

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Rosa

To be optimistic, I think things are looking up despite all of the challenges this city still faces. We can afford to share our kindness and wealth and lead as the best sanctuary city in the country! A welcoming place for all

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Gullible Republicans Believe in myths fairytales invisible gods and conspiracy theories

We should allocate at least $1B to help the illegals. I cannot wait until Title 42 is rescinded and more illegals can flood this great city.

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Emilia

The asylum seekers are Americas future. If the USA government has billions to send to the Ukraine in “Europe” then it should take care of and help the people in need in this country. Many of the Asylum seekers are latino men woman and children. Most crossed the border legally and are being bussed all over the country. We need to do more! I was very proud to learn that Julie Won visited a shelter this past week and spoke against the negligence taking place by the city when it comes to taking care of the asylum seekers in terms of not enough bilingual staff, inappropriate food and health hazards in that shelter. Julie Won is our local AOC!!!!!! She was at a shelter while the mayor was in the Virgin Islands.

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Send them to Martha's Vineyard

Why is Mexico unable, or should I say unwilling, to take care of its own people? Why is it the American taxpayer’s responsibility?

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Glenn or Glenda

Sorry Boomer. You need to update your current geopolitical events. Why would Mexicans want to come here? In fact, many MANY Americans retire there for the cost of living, excellent food and quality of life. Lol. These aren’t Mexicans old timer. The cartels are using central Americans, Venezuelans and Haitians to smuggle drugs to the junky that is the U.S. Have you heard of fentanyl? Or methamphetamine? This is all allowed to continue BECAUSE of American inaction. No laws = drug smugglers and child trafficking. Okey gramps, time for your meds and a nap, it’s 3pm. Pfffft!

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Ralph O’Brien

Glen- You’re pretty much wrong but not all wrong. Most of these people at the boarder are Nicaraguan and Venezuelan but Mexicans are still coming too. My wife’s family owns twin apartment buildings in Corona and everyday Mexican nationals come inquiring about apartments and rooms. Everyday. The retirees you speak of are living in gated communities within close proximity of the US boarder. Yes living is dirt cheap but dangerous. As for the food that is debatable and very subjective.

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so you agree

this country needs to do more…stronger laws and a more secure border…they are all coming from south of the border….and you agree they are criminals bringing in drugs to hurt our citizens…..country of origin is irrelevant…thank you

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Trump promised to build a wall

Agreed, why did taxpayers pay SO much money for a border wall that was never built?

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I don't understand? Lol!

Why aren’t we planting more money trees? Cus money grows on trees! Say all of thee. Reality bites back! While the uni party of Republicrats laughs and sips champagne we the tax payers get kicked to the corner. Now we cant even help the Americans who need help.. talk about biting off more than you can chew.

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John Z

We need to save money. We can’t keep spending the way we do. The cost of living is just going up

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Anonymous

Good for the Mayor. When Julie Won and Richard Donovan spending millions to refurbish perfectly fine jungle gyms in the park, as we are about to hit a Citywide budget crisis come July 1st, it is time to slow down on future items. Mayor is correct, it is time for Tiffany Caban and Julie Won to actually make decisions, instead of always having their ‘great ideas’ regarding the migrants. Time to pitch in before more taxes for us in a year. He is correct – Everything is not free Council Representatives! It just shows how really inept our current progressive officials are with their entitlement viewpoint.

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Glenn or Glenda

These are not migrants. They’re lawbreakers. Ask an El Salvadoran or Nicaraguan that came here legally how they feel about skipping the line after they spent thousands, and waited years, to do it right. They are furious! These people, except the Haitians, are here to make US dollars. Not escaping any war or slavery. They are breaking the law because they can.

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