“This will never become like San Francisco as long as I’m the mayor of this city,” Mayor Adams told journalist Bari Weiss last week.
“New York has had a rough few years,” or so independent journalist and editor Bari Weiss prefaced a recent interview with New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “During the pandemic, it lost four percent of its population — almost 350,000 people. It had a historic crime surge, particularly violent crime. Buildings stayed empty as people continued to work from home. Pundits all over the world declared New York over.”
“Are you worried that New York could become the next San Francisco or the next Los Angeles?” Weiss asked New York City’s Mayor, frankly. “Or is that an overblown fear?”
“No, I’m not worried, because the mayor is Eric Adams,” Mayor Adams responded, striking a confident tone. “I’ve been in San Francisco. I’ve been in Los Angeles. I’ve been in other places where they’re trying hard to deal with this issue.”
“But I was taking a new approach and a different approach: engagement,” Mr. Adams continued. “We went after those who were living on our streets. You’re not seeing that over-proliferation of tents and encampments in this city. In places like Tompkins Square Park, we’ve done several initiatives.”
“We got the loudest and most organized pushback and attacking me, said I was inhumane,” the Mayor added. “No, let me tell you what’s inhumane: allowing people to live in that condition when they can’t make decisions on their own. And I refuse to do so.”
“And you see what we’ve done,” the Mayor told Weiss. “Five thousand encampments were cleaned up on the street. We gave people care. We gave them options to care. And that is the humane way to do it. And so this will never become like San Francisco as long as I’m the mayor of this city and with the agencies that I’ve given clear instructions to.”
Bari Weiss, formerly of the New York Times, now independent editor of her own bespoke news publication, and Mayor Eric Adams make an increasingly salient point with regard to cities like San Francisco. Other major cities, as the pair notes, are struggling with the same issues of crime, a perception of failing city governments coupled with an ever-increasing tax burden.
Some are indeed handling it much worse than New York.
“The Blue State Exodus Accelerates,” wrote the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board on April 28, 2023. “New IRS data for 2021 shows voters fleeing Illinois, among others.”
“Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker shrugged last year after several high-profile corporations left his state,” began the WSJ Editorial Board, quoting one of Gov. Pritzker’s preferred lines on the subject: “Countless companies are choosing Illinois as their home.”
Chicago city officials like Mayor Lori Lightfoot have given the same response to the same question.
“Then why does a new Internal Revenue Service report show an accelerating taxpayer exodus from Illinois and other high-tax states?” the WSJ Editorial Board countered with the follow-up question many members of the press, corporate CEOs, and citizens often ask in reply:
If things are going so well in Chicago, Portland, and San Francisco, why are residents and companies fleeing?
The numbers are hard to ignore.
“The IRS data shows a net 105,000 people left Illinois in 2021, taking with them some $10.9 billion in AGI,” noted the Wall Street Journal. “That’s up from $8.5 billion in 2020 and $6 billion in 2019. New York’s income loss increased to $24.5 billion in 2021, more than triple what it did in 2019.”
“Sorry, Mr. Pritzker,” said the WSJ Editorial Board in closing. “The data is clear that Illinois and other states dominated by progressives are losing human talent in droves to better-governed states.”
Like Chicago, San Francisco, as Weiss and Adams more than tacitly admit, is also in deep socioeconomic trouble
“In San Francisco, a Troubled Year at Whole Foods Market Reflects a City’s Woes,” wrote Thomas Fuller and Sharon LaFraniere for the New York Times on April 30, 2023. “Tech workers have stayed home, and ongoing social problems downtown are forcing civic and business leaders to confront harsh realities about the city’s pandemic recovery.”
“Last year, with pandemic lockdowns in the rearview mirror, Whole Foods Market made a bet on a gritty San Francisco neighborhood,” began Fuller and LaFraniere. “The high-end supermarket chain opened a giant flagship store in a part of the city that is home to both tech companies like Twitter and open-air drug dealing.”
The bet was a losing one: The store is closing and the reasons are abundantly clear.
“But the store was soon confronted head-on with many of the problems plaguing the area,” continued the NTY assessment, in an ominous tone of foreshadowing. “People threatened employees with guns, knives and sticks. They flung food, screamed, fought and tried to defecate on the floor, according to records of 568 emergency calls over 13 months, many depicting scenes of mayhem.”
Of course, “568 emergency calls over 13 months” is an average of almost two calls a day. Never mind that the emergency calls probably only amount to the tip of an iceberg. One doesn’t have to be a psychic to imagine some of the incidents that didn’t make the police reports.
“Male w/machete is back,” and, “Another security guard was just assaulted,” are some examples of the “mayhem” Whole Foods store employees faced on a daily basis.
A video taken last week from inside a San Francisco Target store, showing aisle after aisle with every item kept locked behind plexiglass, went viral.
“Viral TikTok shows a Target San Francisco store going to extreme measures to deter shoplifters, with an entire aisle locked up,” wrote Dominick Reuter and Ben Tobin for Business Insider on April 25, 2023.
“San Francisco Target store locks its entire product range behind security glass as crime spirals out of control,” observed James Callery, somewhat less gently, for the Daily Mail on April 24, 2023.
“Fact Check,” responded the San Francisco Standard in outrage. “No, This San Francisco Target Didn’t Lock Every Item Away.”
“The Standard visited the Target store on Monday evening and found most of the store’s inventory was not actually locked away behind protective security panels,” the Standard defended its city before admitting, “Health, beauty and grooming products, such as razors and deodorant, were locked away behind plastic screens, however.”
Can Mayor Eric Adams keep New York City from going the way of San Francisco? Is San Francisco doomed to the kind of decline experienced by once-thriving cities like Detroit?
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)