A frustrated Mayor Eric Adams offered a simple defense over accusations of nepotism and cronyism in a spate of high-profile hires: "I'm the mayor."
"I'm going to hire the best people for the job that I've known throughout my years in government and their talents," he said Friday. "And the reason I can do that is because I'm the mayor. I'm the mayor of the city of New York, and it's going to take a while before people realize that I am responsible for building a team to end the inequality in our city."
But a rising chorus of critics have argued that Adams' hires — which included his brother Bernard Adams in a $210,000-a-year position — are questionable at best.
Shortly before Adams — again — defended his hires Friday, the New York Times reported a jail investigator accused new Department of Correction chief Louis Molina of telling her to "get rid" of 2,000 discipline cases against officers. She was fired by Molina — a move she believed came at the behest of the correction officers' union, the Times reported.
Adams' officials' closeness with powerful unions aside, other hires face questions over their ethics and qualificiations.
Close Adams ally Philip Banks now serves as a deputy NYPD commissioner, despite the fact he resigned after being named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal police corruption case.
Adams on Friday cast the criticism as unfair elitism, rather than stemming from concerns of potential corruption and cronyism.
"When other mayors hired their lower partners, they hired their people they knew from school that they came up through the ranks — how there was nothing to say about it?" he said. "But I have the audacity to hire blue-collar people, everyday folks who are union members, retired members, it's like, 'Who do you think you are putting these blue collar workers, these everyday people who came here to this country eked up through a living, went to school at night... who do you think you are think you could do that?'"