When a subject comes up they don’t want to deal with, clever politicians swat it away by insisting the intruding topic is a “distraction.” Mayor Adams apparently hasn’t learned that trick yet because he’s busy chasing the distraction.
During his campaign, the mayor relentlessly focused on crime, crime and more crime. He showed up at shooting scenes, knowing the media would follow and let voters know how determined he was to make the city safer.
A former police officer, Adams was fond of saying “Public safety is the prerequisite to prosperity” and his consistent commitment is why he won the Democratic primary and the general election.
Once in office, he took on fellow Democrats, waging a campaign to get Gov. Hochul and the Legislature to fix the bail laws they broke and keep dangerous suspects behind bars.
Notwithstanding that Albany gave him next to nothing and embarrassed him in the process, the mayor seems to have turned his main attention to other matters, namely fighting with the governor of Texas over migrants.
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Shockingly, he’s even proposed cutting the NYPD budget, saying it cannot be exempt from contractions when the city is facing a storm of rising costs and falling tax revenue.
Those are big mistakes. It’s too soon for Adams to take his eye off the ball. Crime is still Public Enemy No. 1 and combatting it remains necessary for securing the city’s future.
If anything, he should increase the size of the police force, which has suffered record resignations and retirements in the midst of the crime wave.
Although murder is thankfully down 13% from last year, with shooting incidents and victims declining by similar numbers, nary a soul would say Gotham is safe. Not when the NYPD index of major crimes still shows a 34% increase over 2021, with the biggest leaps coming in robbery, auto theft and grand larceny.
Statistics aside, life in the city is far from normal. Too many streets and subways still vibrate with menace. Violent maniacs suddenly turn ordinary moments into life-threatening encounters.
The innocent fall victim to gang war crossfire and public spaces are spoiled by unchecked disorder. The MTA admits it is losing $500 million because of an epidemic of fare beating.
The hatchet-wielding man who terrified customers in a Lower East Side McDonald’s perfectly captures the moment, including the fact that he was quickly set free.
“Everybody’s talking about how I should be in jail,” the accused madman, Michael Palacios, told The Post. “I did my 18 hours, bro. What else do you want?”
As crazy as a mere 18 hours in custody sounds, the hatchet man is on the same page with lawmakers who made his release not only possible but mandatory. Even Hochul found the case bizarre, but didn’t actually do anything about it.
Adams, the earlier Adams, would have been all over the case as an example of the broken system. He would have repeated his call for a special legislative session devoted to criminal justice.
Instead, he is making the migrant situation a public priority.
As I noted Sunday, the mayor said nothing when President Biden dispatched planeloads of migrants in the middle of the night to the New York area, many of whom are now surely among the estimated 13,000 migrants in the city.
And while some of the others came from the bus caravan sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, that portion doesn’t come close to the total, which is testing the city’s ability to provide basic necessities given it already had 58,000 people living in homeless shelters.
Yet in the blink of an eye, much of city government is now focused on a problem that would not have occurred if Biden had secured the southern border. Schools are making room for migrant children, housing advocates are pushing for permanent shelter and heath-care costs will be staggering.
But rather than demand that Biden do his job, Adams is talking about using cruise ships to house the migrants and getting them work permits, moves that would be an invitation for even more illegal border crossers to come here. With sky-high inflation and the city’s unemployment rate already rising, to 6.6% in August, an increase of 0.6 over July, and with the prospect of a national recession looming, the budget will face even greater stresses as the migrant totals climb, as they inevitably will.
Moreover, the city has no real idea about the new arrivals, a guarantee that some will turn to crime to support themselves.
To be sure, the migrant crisis is shocking in its size — more than 4 million under Biden — and we can only imagine the desperation that leads people to entrust their lives to the cartels and coyote gangs for the dangerous trek north. The suicide of a young mother in a city shelter illustrates the toll it can take.
Yet it is not a mark of compassion for Adams or anyone else to encourage the trip, which has proved fatal for hundreds, including more than 50 people who suffocated in a sweltering tractor-trailer in Texas.
Mayors and governors have to do many different things on any given day, but they are ultimately judged by how well they did the most important things. For the city, crime remains the most important problem and Adams will be making a historic blunder if he thinks the war that barely started is already won.