Adams should focus on law and order, not ideas like marijuana everywhere
Unlike our former mayor, New York is not a tale of two cities. Rich or poor, black or white, Asian or Hispanic, all are united against skyrocketing violent crime. The city East promises to be the story of two mayors.
The future depends on who Eric Adams emerges victorious: the one who knows he was elected to stem crime and shore up the city’s existing major industries, from Wall Street to tourism, or the one who flits around talking about cannabis and video games.
Last week, the two mayors were exposed.
At the Hunts Point Produce Market in the southeast Bronx on Thursday, Adams unveiled his “plan for New York’s economic recovery.”
There are good things there.
Adams wants to cut red tape for small businesses, launching a “one-stop shop” for permits. Great – but mayor after mayor has promised it in the past. We’ll see if he can deliver.
And he knows the streets are a mess. “When we move around our city and see [homeless] camps on the sidewalks, on the highways, when our streets are not clean, it sends the wrong message,” the mayor said.
But Adams also spends time distracting nonsense, at best — and hurting, at worst.
First, marijuana. “We’re going to have cannabis growth here in the city,” the mayor promised. “You all know what it is.” Forecasting $1.3 billion in annual pot sales, the city promises to help convicted drug dealers get started in this legal drug-selling business, with free marketing and legal assistance.
It was one thing a few years ago that the city and state said no one should go to jail for having a few joints on them. And it’s good to say that if marijuana must be legal, what is sold must be regulated and free of fentanyl and other more dangerous substances.
But it’s a whole other thing to build an economic recovery around the sale of a mind-altering substance.
At best, selling marijuana should be like selling any other low-margin, processed, regulated, farmed product. We all need to buy tomato paste. We don’t build our economy around that. In the worst case, we cord New people, including teenagers, to regularly ingest marijuana, due to extensive subsidized marketing.
Second, and less harmful, Adams wants to “make New York a hub for digital game development.”
It makes sense to appeal to video game makers in New York. Producing a game is like producing a combination of movies, commercials and interactive technology applications – all things that New York’s creative industry excels at.
But it’s not a huge industry. Nationally, it employs approximately 300,000 people. If New York got 10% of those jobs, it wouldn’t add even 1% to the city’s employment.
Moreover, these are the same types of jobs – easily mobile and therefore dependent on where talented and creative people want to be – that the city is already at risk of losing in other sectors, such as Wall Street, advertising and technology.
Since no one is trapped in a five-day-a-week commute to a nine-hour-a-day office, these jobs will go where people want to be, no matter what Adams says.
There’s nothing wrong with cheerleading; maybe video gamers will appreciate the scream. But what does the city need to make players and everyone else want to be here?
First, better routes. Adams has no big plans for better road or rail infrastructure.
No, he is not responsible for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. But could he have any idea how he could spend some of the city’s tax dollars? The city could use a faster bus service to weave neighborhoods not too far apart.
Second, public safety – which will also attract tourists. Adams knows it. “If New Yorkers don’t feel safe on our subways, on our sidewalks and in our parks, then we can’t thrive,” he said Thursday.
Yes, but people want to see results soon. So far in 2022, the murder rate is about the same as last year, more than 50% higher than before the pandemic. The mayor will deploy his new crime police units this week – and the public will expect quick results Where a sharp turn by Adams against the governor and state legislature for delaying fixes to no-bail laws.
If things improve soon, the public will tolerate Adams’ cannabis and video game initiatives. But marijuana and gambling can’t save us from the basic issues, on which the mayor won the election.
Nicole Gelinas is editor-in-chief of the City Journal at the Manhattan Institute.