Mayor Eric Adams admitted Friday that he was pressured by former City Council Chairman Corey Johnson on behalf of the Brooklyn Nets before grant exemptions of delegating the city’s COVID-19 vaccine to local athletes — including their superstar Keri Irving.
“Corey arrived, and made it clear that he was speaking for the Nets when he reached out,” Adams said.
I received calls from people in opposition and supporters. This is happening in the city.”
Adams’ comments, during an unrelated news conference in Brooklyn, reflected his denial on Thursday that he had been pressured ahead of his controversial move, which has drawn criticism from ordinary New Yorkers, the city’s municipal unions, editorial boards and even some of his fellow Democratic politicians, including the chairman of the board. Adrian Adams (D-Queens), who replaced Johnson.
“I wasn’t pressured,” Adams claimed Thursday.
“I was talking with both teams in the city, as I do as mayor all the time about various issues. I heard all sides, and then I made the final decision.”
Adams held his press conference Thursday at Citifield in Queens, the home of the Mets and where he was surrounded by executives from both the Amazon and Yankees.
The choice of venues raised eyebrows because billionaire owner Steve Cohen donated $1.5 million to PAC for the mayor’s election last year.
City records show that Johnson’s company, Cojo Strategies, was hired on February 8 for $18,000 a month by Nets general counsel Jeff Gewirtz’ B-Cubed Holdings to pressure Adams and top City Hall aides regarding an executive order on health care policy.
Adams denied on Friday that Johnson’s lobbying efforts, first reported by Politico, had affected his thinking about the order he signed Thursday.
“I said, ‘Corey, like everyone else, I’m going to base it on what my doctors say,'” he said.
“So, city council thoughts, other people’s thoughts, that’s understandable. Eight and eight million people, 35 million opinions, you know? There are things a city council speaker would do, that I would disagree with.”
“But it has a role as city council, and I have a role as mayor,” he added.
In response to questions from The Post, Adams also denied that his order was a double standard under which high-paid athletes could earn a living without getting vaccinated while ordinary New Yorkers remained subject to the mandate.
“No double standards,” Adams said.
“I made a decision based on the information I received from my health team, and I have an obligation to make those decisions about how to move my city forward.”
Adams added, “I am clear that I will make decisions for the City of New York as mayor, and I have made this decision within the authority vested in me as Mayor of New York City.”
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