September 20, 2023
Hazel Sanchez: Right now, New York City is winning the war against its Public Enemy Number One, rats. And now the city is taking its fight against rodents one step further by requiring all businesses to invest in new trash containers.
Dan Mannarino: Yes. Those new bins will prevent garbage bags from piling up on city streets. Businesses have six months to get those containers before they start facing those fines. Joining us this morning to talk about this and more, Mayor Eric Adams and Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch. So, good morning to both of you.
Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. Good morning.
Mannarino: And let’s begin, mayor and commissioner. Congratulations on slowly winning the war against the arch nemesis here, Public Enemy Number One, which are the rats. Let’s talk about the communities that you’re seeing the most decline and decrease in the rat complaints and rat sightings across the city.
Commissioner Jessica Tisch, Department of Sanitation: We are seeing big declines to city wide, 20 percent city wide last summer compared to the summer before. But in particular, we’re seeing the biggest gains in our rat mitigation zones, which tend to be the highest density parts of the city. There, we’re seeing a 45 percent decline compared to the same number as last summer. And it’s just so obvious: you take the rat food off the street, you put it in a container, and it should be no surprise to anyone that it works.
Sanchez: Yes, Mayor Adams, you must be happy about that. I know how much you love ’em.
Mayor Adams: That’s right. You know, I know people don’t realize it, but I hate rats, and…
It’s just, this is really…we’re 20 years behind other modern cities, but this is revolutionary for New York. I was extremely excited when the commissioner first rolled out this plan. Some people thought it was going to take 44 years and even longer. But think about it, we are 21, 22 months into our administration, and this is part of our overall quality of life pursuit. And you’re going to see a big difference in this city. We’re going to be cleanest big city in America.
Mannarino: We like that. But mayor, you know, the city is also testing out the pilot program for these trash containers in residential areas, right? And commissioner, you’re all on top of this one. You know, there are people who are going to push back and say, okay, that sounds great, yes. But then there’s the parking space issue, right? Taking away some of the parking spaces from some of these communities who have already lost them. What do you say to that?
Mayor Adams: Well, first of all, this is New York, 8.3 million people, 35 million opinions. No matter what you do New Yorkers are going to push back. But the commissioner has been clear of if they push back we are not going to fall back. This city must be clean, the hygiene, the appearance. And I think the plan that the commission is going to share with you is the right way to go.
Sanchez: Yes. So, how many…can you give a percentage of how many of these businesses are already using these bins; and, can you explain also the fines that go into place once if they don’t follow the rules?
Commissioner Tisch: Sure. We’ve actually rolled out the business requirements in phases. We started with food related businesses– restaurants, bodegas, bars, delis– that’s about 20, 25 percent of the businesses in New York City. And then we added on top of that more recently chain stores. So, we have about 30 percent that are already fully containerized, but remember, our set out times that we put in place last April, they already incentivize all businesses to use containers because no black bags are allowed on our curbs before eight p.m. So, I think we really have about 60 percent of businesses that are already complying with the container rules, and this just closes the gap for the last 40.
Mayor Adams: And the fines.
Commissioner Tisch: And the fines start at $50, they go up to $100 for your second offense, $200 for the third. But we do do a very robust one‑month warning period before we start giving out fines.
Mannarino: Yes. And that will be for the residential buildings as well?
Commissioner Tisch: It’s the same fine structure for the residential buildings, although no residential rules have yet gone into effect.
Mannarino: Understood. While we have you here, do you want to pivot to another topic right now, a big topic plaguing New York City, and that’s the migrant crisis. Mayor, we’ve spoken about this many times. President has been in town for the past three days, many asking why the two of you have not met. Have you tried, and are there plans today before he leaves town?
Mayor Adams: Well, we have been in constant communication with the White House staff and team to really lean into what New Yorkers need and what migrants need. New Yorkers should not be experiencing this. And we’re going to continue to push for the right funding, calling for a state of emergency for all the municipalities across the country that are dealing with this issue, and to make sure that we allow people to work.
You know, Dan, I have not stated this enough, that the mere fact we’re not allowing individuals to contribute to our tax base in our society is just wrong and it’s un‑American.
Sanchez: Well, Governor Hochul tweeted that she met with the President last night or had conversations. Have you been privy to what that conversation entailed at all?
Mayor Adams: I will speak with the governor later today, but you know, I’m sure she’s like me, she holds on to the private conversations that she may have with someone. But we have been communicating, I spoke with her over the weekend as we move forward on the next of court procedures that are in place. The goal is everything must be on the table to deal with the crisis–- over 110,000 people, 10,000 a month. This is too much on the weight of New York City taxpayers, $5 billion this fiscal year, $12 billion total in the next two fiscal cycles. New Yorkers should not be going through this and migrants should not be placed in this condition as well.
Mannarino: Yes, and there’s new reporting out by the city, mayor, talking about how City Hall is looking to put migrants in shelters on shorter clocks ‑‑ meaning, shortening the day for single men and won’t be able to stay passed 30 days, families won’t be able to stay passed 60 days. Is there truth to that reporting?
Mayor Adams: You know, Dan, we roll out our policies when they come about, and any new policy change, we’re going to roll it out and formally announced that.
Sanchez: And any update on Floyd Bennett Field?
Mayor Adams: We’re still in the process. The contract was signed. The state is going to pick up the tab, but we are going to build out the location. It away from communities, as many people have asked of us. But every space must be used to deal with this onslaught of new arrivals who are looking for a place to stay. And I think that it’s imperative that the federal government does its job. This is not sustainable. I want to be clear on that.
Mannarino: Yes, and we’ve heard you say that a number of times, which is why some might say it’s odd that a mayor has not met with the president while he’s here in town for a three‑day time span. And it’s almost that…it may look like you’re avoiding each other while he’s here.
Mayor Adams: Listen, I’m a New Yorker: we do not run away from things, we move towards them. Listen, you know my authentic style of communicating. I walk around with that New York communication style, and you know, I don’t search through a thesaurus to find a politically correct way of saying you are hurting me, you’re hurting my city if that’s what someone is doing.
And some people may get offended to that, but I have to defend the city that I defended as a police officer and now as the mayor of the city. New York City must not be going through this. It’s not sustainable.
Mannarino: I do want to ask you quickly about, last night on Staten Island there were a number of protesters there as they have been there. A few arrests there. got heated at times. These protests keep kicking up on Staten Island. Your thoughts?
Mayor Adams: Well, we have 8.3 million New Yorkers, Dan, in this city, and a small number, they have decided to use offensive terminologies and decided that they’re going to bang on buses and say things that are just not what we do as a city. We’re all frustrated. We’re all angry. But those who decide they’re going to cross the line, that’s not going to happen.
We will defend the right of the city but we’re not going to allow those who want to behave in that matter. They were wrong to act that way, and we’re not going to allow it to happen.
Sanchez: All right. Mayor Adams and Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch, thanks so much for your time this morning. And one more last congratulations on this early victory against the rats.
Commissioner Tisch: Thank you.
Mayor Adams: Thank you. Take care.
September 20, 2023