Monday, January 24

United States: Eric Adams, the former vegan and democratic policeman who will rule the destinies of New York | International


Eric Adams, Democratic candidate for mayor of New York, on October 26 during a television debate.
Eric Adams, Democratic candidate for mayor of New York, on October 26 during a television debate.EDUARDO MUNOZ (AP)

Eric Adams is a former police officer, vegan, bicycle advocate, and former president of the Brooklyn borough. This Tuesday he is expected to be elected mayor of New York against his Republican rival, Curtis Sliwa, a peculiar character wearing a beret reminiscent of a Phrygian hat and who in the eighties created Guardian Angels, a volunteer patrol to guard the subway. Although the polls won’t close until the afternoon, and the vote may be delayed, there is no question that the 61-year-old Adams will be chosen: Democrats score seven-to-one in the Big Apple.

What does cast doubt is the city that he will inherit from his co-religionist Bill de Blasio, mayor since 2014. When he arrived at City Hall, New York was living on the crest of the wave, economically and culturally. Adams instead will receive a city exhausted by the pandemic; what was ground zero of the virus in the spring of 2020, as the ominous images of the discovery of dozens of bodies in trucks without refrigeration, or the opening of massive mass graves. The return of tourism and that of office workers to their jobs should be the driving forces behind the recovery, along with the impulse of SMEs, but the erratic course of the coronavirus sows doubts in the short term: in August only the 30% of workers, ten points less than in July, due to the rebound in the delta variant. It is still a coincidence that the election coincides with the entry into force of the mandatory vaccine for municipal workers, which Adams defends at all costs, despite the rejection of many deniers. It will also maintain the requirement of requiring the vaccination certificate in restaurants and shows.

But there are many more immediate challenges posed by the city, like a menacing gorgon: the upswing in armed violence in the streets and the hot potato of a police reform that no one dares to sink their teeth into; the perennial crisis of access to housing, the state of public education or the overcrowding of the Rikers prison, a powder keg about to explode, to name just a few of the challenges. Also the figures of fatal traffic accidents, a phenomenon that Adams wants to mitigate by creating 500 kilometers of bike lanes, or the unworthy fate of the tens of thousands of homeless – a good part of them, with serious mental problems – who live on the streets of the city because the 20,000 places available in shelters do not reach everyone.

As a former police captain, Adams cautiously considers the management of the gigantic department (36,000 police officers, 19,000 clerks and a budget of $ 5.9 billion, as of June 2020). He defends reorganizing teams and cutting overtime to save about 500 million a year, but not hiring more agents, as his rival at the polls proposes. Also to recover the unit of plainclothes policemen to fight against small crimes in the street or the subway, which was dismantled by De Blasio. But of the radical reform that other Democratic coreligionists further to the left proposed in the primaries, not a word.

The financial crisis of the old and often dysfunctional metro, which has not yet recovered the flow of travelers prior to the pandemic, will be another emergency for the new mayor. But the municipal management of the suburban is very limited compared to the superior responsibility of the State Governor, as a result of a one might say Soviet bureaucracy. Adams wants to divert the homeless and mentally ill who daily sleep on platforms and wagons to social services.

The former senator for the State of New York also wants to recover a program for brilliant students recently suppressed by De Blasio, as well as alleviate the damage that in the lowest-income students, assigned to the public network -the largest in the country-, has caused the pandemic: a hindrance that deepens the structural inequality of the city. It also aspires to improve the quality of school menus – and those in prisons and shelters – as befits someone very aware of the benefits of proper nutrition. At 56 years old, Adams woke up one day almost blind, due to a diabetic coma, and since discovering his chronically ill condition, he has followed a 100% vegan diet.

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But Adams does not confine solely to eating the impulse of habits that enhance the quality of life; It also advocates environmental health with the creation of the aforementioned bike lanes and the fitting out of 250 kilometers of new bus lanes. De Blasio’s attempt to reduce car traffic on Fifth Avenue, for the benefit of more public transportation and more bikes, collided with the interests of the businesses of the iconic road and there it remained, a project.

New York had a budget of $ 88 billion for fiscal year 2021. Much more than most countries in the world. That is why it is often a platform for higher political destinies – De Blasio himself aspires to become governor of the State – and, of course, a showcase of achievements and failures, as if to the boring management of the garbage business or maintenance of the sewer network a magnifying glass will be applied daily. Especially in a convalescent situation like the current one, with the anti-eviction moratorium about to expire, an unemployment rate of 9.8% – almost double that of the national one – and with palpable health gaps between the white population and other communities. Adams likes to remember that blacks and Hispanics died twice more from COVID than whites, and that such entrenched inequality will not be mandated to correct it anytime soon, even if a black man like him is mayor.

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