You are reading

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.

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Queens Botanical Garden hosts Lunar New Year celebration with globally beloved Miffy

About 4,200 people joined the world-renowned beloved rabbit Miffy to ring in the Year of the Rabbit at Queens Botanical Garden’s Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday, Jan. 28. 

Queens Botanical Garden’s Lunar New Year celebration included a visit from Councilman Shekar Krishnan, who gave remarks, followed by a program of activities for all ages. Attendees enjoyed a lion dance performance, zodiac crafts, demonstrations, lucky plant sales and more. Miffy was in attendance for photos, story time and to greet children throughout the event.

Mets owner Steve Cohen hosts second community visioning session regarding development of area around Citi Field

Hundreds of community residents and leaders gathered at the Piazza Club inside Citi Field to participate in a visioning session regarding the development of a nearby 50-acre lot. This marked the second visioning session New York Mets owner Steve Cohen has hosted at Citi Field in January as he attempts to collect as much community feedback regarding the development as possible.

Attendees of the visioning session went to a series of interactive stations, sharing what mattered most to them when it came to improving the area around Citi Field, including preferred forms of year-round entertainment, ability to access different forms of transportation and attainable local jobs and training. Information and input was collected from the community in how they would like to see the lot utilized. A common theme among many of those who took part in the visioning session was the desire to see something built there that would bring a lot of economic opportunity to the community and provide year-round entertainment.

NewYork-Presbyterian Queens doctor aims to bring awareness to women’s heart health

With February marking the beginning of American Heart Month, a cardiologist from NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital spoke with QNS about the importance of heart health for women.

According to attending cardiologist Dr. Joanna Troulakis, approximately 400,000 women die as a result of cardiovascular diseases each year in the United States. She noted that women have suffered more cardiovascular disease deaths than men in recent years. When it comes to heart attacks, the mortality rate for women is higher than men.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

‘Where do we go now?’ Michaels set to close its doors in Fresh Meadows next month

The Michaels located at 187-04 Horace Harding Expwy. in Fresh Meadows will be permanently closing its doors on Feb. 23. The announcement that Michaels will be leaving the Fresh Meadows Shopping Center has led to an outpouring of reactions from many community members.

“We know this is disappointing to our customers in Queens, but we hope to continue to serve them at our other locations in New York City or online at Michaels.com,” a spokesperson for Michaels said in a statement to Patch.com.