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Morning Spew

Wednesday Is a Good Day for the DOB to Finally Inspect the Mayor’s Brooklyn Apartment

Plus: An NYPD evidence building goes up in flames, City employees acting badly, and some very relevant questions about where houseless New Yorkers have gone.

9:16 AM EST on December 14, 2022

(Hell Gate)

Earlier this month, the New York Daily News revealed that the City's Health Department had cited Mayor Eric Adams for having a rat infestation outside of the Bed-Stuy building he owns. Last week, with the help of a City attorney who works for the Mayor's Office, Adams contested the ticket, and won. 

But the City still has some unfinished business at his Lafayette Avenue brownstone (not to be confused with the apartment in Fort Lee, NJ that he co-owns with his current partner, or the one-bedroom in Crown Heights that he still co-owns with his former partner, or the other Crown Heights apartment that Adams rented for a few years from his friend, who is now working for the NYPD and making $241,000 a year). 

In the summer of 2021, someone made a complaint to the Department of Buildings that Adams's Bed-Stuy brownstone contained an illegally converted apartment. As the CITY reported at the time, when Adams purchased the brownstone from the federal government in 2003, it was listed as having three units, but currently, it has four, according to municipal tax documents. Twice, inspectors from the Department of Buildings were dispatched to investigate the complaint, but no one answered the door. 

Asked about the open complaint, Adams replied, "I'm going to reach out to the Department of Buildings and resolve the issue, whatever it is." That was in late September of 2021. More than 14 months later, the inspection still hasn't happened, according to DOB records, and the complaint is still active. 

An identical illegal conversion complaint was also made against the building in 2017; twice, inspectors tried and failed to gain entry. A campaign spokesperson for Adams has suggested that the complaints are politically motivated.

When asked about the building, a DOB spokesperson referred Hell Gate to the Mayor's Office, which then referred us back to the DOB's public records. 

Converting illegal apartments into safe, legal places for people to live is part of the mayor's big push to create more affordable housing. If he can use his own home as an example, why not? And if this is just a stupid misunderstanding, why not let the DOB in to see for themselves?

Hell Gate visited the apartment last Friday; no one answered the door of the ground floor unit, the one Adams opened to reporters last year. 

Lionel Conway, a neighbor who has lived on the mayor's Brooklyn block for 25 years, said he saw Adams at the building around three weeks ago, and has seen contractors and workers come and go—the mayor is apparently putting in some new gas meter bars, according to DOB records. Conway said he never bought into those stories about Adams living in New Jersey: "People say a lot of things to get attention."

When we asked about the failed DOB inspections, Conway said, "I don't think it's necessary for them to go in there to see what he does and what he doesn't do. He's the mayor."

—Christopher Robbins and Esther Wang

Here's what else people are doing, and not doing, around the city of New York:

  • The two NYPD officers accused of plowing their vehicle into a crowd during 2020's protests will stand trial today.
  • According to a report, the rate at which inmates are dying of overdoses in New York correctional facilities is more than double the national average.
  • It is remarkably difficult to get detailed information on what happened to the more than 1,300 "emotionally disturbed" people the NYPD has removed from the transit system so far this year. 
  • Two Parks Department employees, having accused their supervisors of sexual harassment, told the Daily News they were forced to continue working under those bosses for months. 
  • The Manhattan DA has implemented a rare protective order preventing an employee at the comptroller's office from owning a gun after he threatened coworkers and suggested there may be violence at an upcoming holiday party
  • A three-alarm fire burned down part of the NYPD's evidence center in Red Hook; the facility holds evidence including DNA from cold cases and seized vehicles.
  • A Manhattan 33-year-old has dropped a lawsuit accusing his ex-fiancee of fleeing the state with his boxer-beagle mix, Frankie
  • Stephen Witt, an ex-journalist recently appointed to a media relations position in the Mayor’s Office, faces accusations from several former colleagues of inappropriate language and sexism. "Stephen Witt has been in the public eye a long time," the mayor said on Tuesday. "I don't know why they’re coming out with them now."
  • A Guatemalan mother and son living in New York are suing the federal government for damages based on the 792 days of separation and detention they experienced under the Trump administration's border policy. 
  • An internal Correction Department forecast predicts a ballooning incarcerated population, raising further questions about the plan to close Rikers Island. 
  • The feds are investigating allegations that two NYPD officers planted drugs on New Yorkers, allegations that were previously cleared by the department and Staten Island prosecutors. 
  • A sperm whale that washed up on Rockaway Beach has died.
  • And yet truly, we live in the greatest city on earth: 
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