New York City Mayor Eric Adams defended himself Wednesday after facing criticism last week for fleeing the city as the Big Apple braced for a severe winter storm during the Christmas holiday.
“Every mayor traveled away,” Adams told reporters. “I deserve private time — I’m a believer of that.”
Adams, a retired police captain who took office on January 1, 2022, reportedly took a couple of days off last week to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands while the city of about 8.8 million people braced for the winter blast.
Western New York suffered from a “once in a generation” winter storm that also swept across much of the country, producing dangerous conditions that knocked out power for more than a million customers, foiled holiday travel plans, and killed nearly 30 in the Buffalo area.
Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency for the Empire State on Thursday as the approaching winter storm threatened all sorts of hazards, including plummeting temperatures, slick roads, strong winds, and power outages.
However, New York City’s mayor felt he needed to escape the major metropolitan area ahead of the natural disaster.
“I deserve to walk out of the building without a reporter hiding behind a flowerpot — without someone following me,” Adams said. “I deserve a moment to really de-escalate, and there will be many days that my body and my mind is going to tell me, ‘Eric, you need to get away.’”
The New York Post reported that Adams made the first deputy mayor responsible for the city in his absence, who held a press conference “giving a complete diagnosis of what’s happening.”
First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo offered a defense of her boss, saying, “Let me just say this to you — he might as well be here because we’ve been speaking constantly throughout the day,” according to the New York Daily News.
Adams further explained the city charter does not state that a mayor has to report his whereabouts to the New York City Press.
“I’m not going to do that,” Adams said. “And I’m not going to apologize for having the mental and physical capacity that’s needed to do the second most difficult job in politics in America.”
Adams returned to the city on Saturday night, where the Post spotted him attending Christmas Eve midnight mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in midtown Manhattan.
When a reported asked him where he went over the latter portion of the week, Adams said he was “getting some rest and hiding from the Post.”
NYC Mayor Eric Adams defends Virgin Islands trip as city prepared for winter storm:
"I deserve private time. […] Nowhere in the city charter does it state I have to report to the New York City press where my whereabouts are, and I'm not going to do that." pic.twitter.com/S1fJKWtbjC
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) December 28, 2022
Daniel Chaitin contributed to this report.