Borough President Adams has been in office for less than two months, but he has wasted no time in putting his stamp on Borough Hall. The energetic new Beep has hit the ground running with initiatives aimed at making the city more efficient and responsive to citizens. We got him on the line to talk about how he wants to revolutionize city government and services.
Bill Egbert: You came into office with lots of new ideas. What are some of the changes you’re making at Borough Hall?
Eric Adams: I’ve created a street team — staffers who had traditionally office-type jobs are moving out to the streets. It’s a new department called External Affairs. The idea is to get out and meet people where they are and see what they need.
We need to do a better job at seeing what’s out there. We have a lot of people in this borough, a lot of tools, and we need to learn how to make use of what we have more efficiently. Before we go asking for more, we need to take a proper look at what we have and what we’re doing with it.
BE: You’re a former cop and you’ve talked about taking the NYPD’s CompStat approach and applying it at Borough Hall. How would that work?
EA: We’ve already started using the CompStat model at Borough Hall — centralizing data and resources, and cross-referencing them to get people and services where they’re needed. I’m meeting soon with some of Brooklyn’s education and tech giants to work on designing a mapping system to track services and direct resources in a data-based way instead of this guessing game we’ve been playing.
BE: What sort of services would you monitor? Things like snow removal?
EA: I had a conversation with Mayor DeBlasio the other day and talked to him about using the CompStat model to improve the efficiency of city agencies, and he actually mentioned snow removal. I think he realizes that it’s time to move out of the Ice Age and into the Tech age for snow removal. The technology is there. The problem is that in many city agencies the mindset isn’t there — yet.
BE: You’ve also said you want to bring new people onto local community boards. What sort of people are you looking for?
EA: I think we need to get more people on the community boards who have worked for volunteer groups in their neighborhoods. We want people to have spent time in the minor leagues, so to speak, before we promote them to the major league of the community boards.
BE: Traffic safety has been a hot topic in the borough, and you’ve expressed support for Mayor DeBlasio’s Vision zero. How do you think we can make Brooklyn’s streets safer?
EA: There is no magic bullet for traffic safety. We need a combination of enforcement, education and reexamining our speed limits. I think a 20-mile-per-hour limit is worth looking at. As we’ve been encouraging healthier lifestyles with biking and walking, street utilization has changed but the mindset hasn’t.
BE: How should people reach out to you with suggestions?
EA: I’m working with the city’s technology department to revamp our website Brooklyn-usa.org to make it more user friendly, but I invite everyone with questions or suggestions to use the AskEric e-mail address [AskEric@brooklynbp.nyc.gov] to contact me. I read every e-mail personally.