Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who more than likely will be the city's next Mayor, made clear he has far more sympathy for city Correction Officers than Bill de Blasio's expressed lately during an Oct. 4 interview with NY1 political anchor Errol Louis.
During their conversation in a diner, excerpts of which were broadcast on "Inside City Hall" that evening and the following night, Mr. Adams said of the large number of unauthorized absences—which Mr. de Blasio has charged are part of a job action either encouraged or condoned by the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association—were detrimental to the smooth functioning of the jail system.
"You can't have the AWOLs, the Absent Without Leave," he said. "You can't have people doing any other form of job actions."
But, he quickly added, "there's something else we can't have," and that's the staff shortages that created the problem even before absences rose dramatically and the lack of support officers feel from not only City Hall but the Bronx District Attorney's Office, which has jurisdiction over Rikers Island.
What the union was saying, he told Mr. Louis, was, "'Hey, we're in a dangerous environment.'" Compounding the problem, he said, was that officers "were doing triples," referring to three consecutive shifts, with alarming frequency.
"They had human waste thrown at them," Mr. Adams continued. "They were slashed, they were being assaulted."
Without mentioning Bronx DA Darcel Clark, he laid some of the blame at her doorstep, saying, "We were not even re-arresting the inmates who carried out this task."
Asked what message he had for the COs, Mr. Adams replied, "I say to them, 'I need you to be at the place of employment. I need you to make sure those inmates there are protected."
Then, introducing an element that has been curiously missing from the critiques of problems at Rikers by the Mayor, the Board of Correction, and the special Monitor overseeing the jail system, the former NYPD Captain put the onus on "the same violent, small number of inmates who are very dangerous. They assault and prey on inmates, and they prey on officers."
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The state's political wheels were turning in double time, and sometimes at cross-purposes, Oct. 4 when State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs gave his personal endorsement to Governor Hochul in next June's Democratic primary.
He described her as both pragmatic and moderate in explaining his decision to endorse her for a full term just six weeks after she stepped into the job. That followed Andrew Cuomo's resignation one step ahead of an Assembly posse that seemed ready to impeach him for dubious behavior ranging from his alleged sexual harassment of numerous former aides to his handling of nursing-home patients in the early days of the pandemic and the undercount of their deaths by his administration.
In what seemed a thinly veiled swipe at Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and State Attorney General Letitia James, each of whom less than a week earlier indicated interest in running for Governor against Ms. Hochul, Mr. Jacobs—who also chairs the Nassau County Democratic Party—said, "A party torn apart by multiple candidates in multiple primaries for multiple offices will exhaust precious resources, divide us, and make us weaker when we need to be at our strongest."
Mr. Williams fired back with a statement accusing Mr. Jacobs "and many others in Albany [with having] clung to Governor Cuomo—until it was politically impossible to do so, but long after it was in any way justifiable."
He added of the woman who narrowly defeated him in the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor three years ago, "Governor Hochul should be using this moment to demonstrate a new direction of leadership for the state party, not continuing the practices of Andrew Cuomo's Albany."
Mr. Cuomo, who got a heads-up from Mr. Jacobs prior to the endorsement, also chimed in, saying, "I fear the state is in a dangerous moment. We are seeing extremists and political expediency rule the day, and 'the tail is wagging the dog' in the Democratic Party."
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