New York Mayor Eric Adams Has Thrilling First Week Of Nepotism, Cronyism, Swagger
Just a couple days before Eric Adams was sworn in as New York’s mayor, the Bulwark wondered if Adams was the Democrats’ next national star. Adams is an avowed centrist and cop lover, so he’s obviously the kind of Democrat anti-Trump conservatives can support. Nate Silver even ranked Adams in his "top 5 for who will be the next Democratic presidential nominee after Joe Biden?"
Well, Adams hasn’t even been in office for two full weeks and his star is already falling. Friday, Adams named his younger brother Bernard Adams as deputy to New York Police Department Commissioner Keechant Sewel. It’s a sweet gig that pays $240,000 a year, enough for a comfortable studio apartment in the city.
"My brother understands me," Adams told reporters on Sunday following an unrelated press conference at Bellevue Hospital. "And if I have to put my life in someone's hands, I want to put it in the hand of the person I trust deeply, because that is a very personal process of your security.”
After the Trump administration, you’d think Democrats would collectively avoid nepotism hires for a while. It’s a bad look that just reminds us of Ivanka and Jared. Public officials aren’t supposed to use their office for the private gain of friends and relatives. New York’s Conflicts of Interest Board will review the appointment and make a final determination. It shouldn’t take the board long to conclude that Bernard Adams is closely related to the mayor.
During an interview Sunday with Jake Tapper on CNN’s "State of the Union,” Adams defended hiring his brother, who we’re sure was probably the most qualified applicant out of all of Adams's siblings.
ADAMS: He will be in charge of my security, which is extremely important to me in a time where we see an increase in white supremacy and hate crimes.
According to his Linked-In profile, Bernard Adams has worked at Virginia Commonwealth University since 2011 and his most recent position was assistant director for parking. If I were worried about threats from white supremacists and “anarchists," I’d pick someone with more impressive credentials to handle my security but maybe that’s because I’m an only child.
ADAMS: I have to take my security in a very serious way, but at the same time, I need that right balance. … My brother has a community affairs background, the balance that I need.
ADAMS: He understands law enforcement. He was a 20-year retired veteran from the police department, and I need someone that I trust around me during these times for my security, and I trust my brother deeply.
The mayor also appointed Philip Banks III as the city’s new deputy mayor of public safety. This is another prize hero, as the former NYPD chief resigned in 2014 after becoming the target of a federal corruption probe. Adams told Tapper, "I believe that Phil acknowledges there were some real mistakes and errors that were made. He was not accused of a crime.” More accurately, Banks was never charged with a crime but federal prosecutors described him as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a police bribery scheme. I’m hardly a fan of the NYPD but surely Adams could’ve found someone with less baggage for this role.
\u201cWhen a mayor has swagger, the city has swagger. We\u2019ve allowed people to beat us down so much, that all we did was wallow in COVID.\u201d\n\n\u2014 NYC Mayor Eric Adams (D)pic.twitter.com/rgKN13Ssnm— The Recount (@The Recount) 1641219832
Adams entered office during the city’s devastating Omicron surge, but he seems to think “swagger” is the best response to a public health crisis. No, seriously, here’s what he said — in front of people — last Monday.
ADAMS: When a mayor has swagger, the city has swagger. We’ve allowed people to beat us down so much that all we did was wallow in COVID — that’s all we did — and we no longer believed this is a city of swagger, this is a city of resiliency.
We need a mayor with swagger, we need a councilwoman with swagger, we need assemblywomen with swagger, we need a borough president with swagger, we need a chancellor with swagger, we need a police commissioner with swagger ...
Yes, we get it: Adams considers “swagger” a key leadership trait. It’s unclear how New Yorkers are supposed to strut their way out of a public health crisis.
On New Year’s Eve, Andy Cohen drunkenly bashed outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio, and while he did suck a great deal, he managed to accomplish some good things during his few couple years in office — universal pre-kindergarten, $15 dollar minimum wage, and the end of stop-and-frisk. So far, Adams has delivered nepotism and croneyism. All the swagger in the world can’t make that look good.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."