Borough President Eric Adams refused to intercede in his employees’ illegal parking habits at a town hall meeting he convened to discuss placard abuse on Tuesday, claiming that — if other public officials get to abuse their parking privileges — he can too!
“I fought my entire life to make sure men that look like me don’t have different rules than anyone else,” said Adams. “There’s one rule in this city, there’s not going to be a rule just for Eric Adams, the first African-American borough president.”
Adams, who is marketing himself as a safe streets advocate as he prepares to campaign for mayor of New York City next year, convened the public meeting at Borough Hall to mend his broken reputation in the wake of a social media blunder he committed last month, in which he compared a Twitter user to the Ku Klux Klan for criticizing his record on placard abuse in America’s Downtown.
As part of a post-Twitter blunder publicity tour he’s embarked on, Adam’s rolled back his Klan comments in a Sept. 1 radio interview prior to Tuesday’s meeting, saying that he was merely referring to criminals covering their faces — not the white supremacist terrorist group specifically.
“People who throughout my history of using ways of hiding their faces by using any form of disguise to commit any kind of act that a coward would do,” he told WCBS Radio.
And on Tuesday the beep said it’s okay to use social media as “a bully pulpit” to highlight problem areas and fight placard abuse — as long as he isn’t singled out!
“Let’s do this in a uniform fashion,” Adams said. “I’m the break-the-car-culture elected official. I believe it, I live it, I don’t just talk about it, I live through it. But I’m clear on one thing, we’re not going to have two standards, folks.”
Adams broached other tactics for fighting placard abuse, including mandated enforcement sweeps, publicly sponsored car pools for city workers, and legislative reform to hold bad actors accountable.
But the beep’s audience Tuesday wanted to know what he would do to clean up illegal parking around his seat of power at Borough Hall — before they discussed the city at large — saying they weren’t buying his excuse that widespread corruption excused his own wrongdoings.
“If I go into a clothing store and 20 people are stealing things and I walk in and I steal something too, I don’t say ‘Oh it’s okay, everyone else is doing it. I’m not going to stop until everybody else stops,’” said Armenoush Alsanian-Persico.
Another constituent made clear to Adams that he’s not the mayor yet, and that while he’s the Brooklyn borough president, he’s expected to act like it.
“It frankly hurts when you say there’s a double standard happening. We expect enforcement throughout New York City. With that said, I’m your constituent, I’m not the Manhattan borough president’s constituent, so I’m coming to you and asking for your help,” said Blythe Austin.
This reporter found about half a dozen unmarked cars illegally parked at Borough Hall’s side entrance with placards issued by Adams’ office in the dash and a traffic cone in front of them with a makeshift laminated sign saying “Parking Spot for BP Car.”
And Adams admitted he allows staffers to park illegally, but only female employees who respond to emergency situations late at night, such as the recent mass shooting in Brownsville.
“The only individuals who are allowed to park private vehicles around the building are my women employees that I have told they have to respond late at night when they call,” he said. “Things happen all the time, I’m not going to have them commuting at 3, 4 in the morning.”
But when asked by Alsanian-Persico if staff members could restrict their illegal parking to nights and use the many nearby parking lots during the day, Adams refused to entertain the suggestion, arguing that there was already enough space on the Borough Hall plaza.
“My plaza is used by the people who come here to shop, to eat, to sit down. We have adequate enough space from the people that want to use the plaza,” he said.