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Morning Spew

 It’s Wednesday, and We’re Avoiding Confrontation in the Bronx

Plans to provide housing for seniors and recently incarcerated people run into familiar foes.

6:49 AM EDT on August 31, 2022

Frances Tiafoe and Marcos Giron square off in the first round of the U.S. Open in Flushing, Queens on August 30th. (Hell Gate)

After a flurry of rezonings passed by the lame-duck de Blasio mayoralty and the city council last summer, this year has been relatively quiet on the rezoning front. Despite Mayor Eric Adams’s pledge to continue upzoning areas to allow for residential growth, his administration hasn’t yet shepherded a large, controversial project through city council. (Ed. Note: After publication, the Adams administration pointed out to Hell Gate that some smaller rezonings have passed the current City Council with Adams's support).

In the East Bronx, there might now be an opportunity to change that—the Bruckner rezoning would replace a Foodtown and three other currently unused sites with 349 apartments for seniors and low-income residents. But a few community groups in the area are staunchly opposed to this project, on familiar grounds—property values for homeowners will drop, they argue, because more poor people will live in the neighborhood. Throw in the proposal for a nearby, unrelated project that would turn unused hospital housing into much-needed housing for people formerly incarcerated at Rikers Island who are facing serious health issues, and you’ve got a NIMBY goulash, where community board meetings become insufferable poor-bashing exercises in homeowner resentment. 

In opposing the “Just Home” proposal for formerly incarcerated people, local critics say they want to make sure that local affordable housing needs are being met. What’s curious is that they are the same people opposing the Bruckner rezoning, which would lead to…more local affordable housing. . 

On Tuesday, groups supporting both projects held a rally to gather support in advance of a city council vote later this year on the Bruckner rezoning. The rally was set to also feature Mayor Eric Adams, the man apparently dead set on “Getting Stuff Done,” including the construction of affordable housing in New York City. 

On his public schedule, sent out by his press team, the mayor was described as hosting the “Rally in Support of Affordable Housing,” on Tuesday at 10 a.m. But at the appointed hour, the mayor was nowhere to be found. At exactly 9:59 a.m. on Tuesday, his press team sent out an updated schedule, saying he wouldn’t be attending, but giving no reason as to why. 

Hell Gate reached out to City Hall to ask why the mayor bailed on the rally, and was told that hizzoner “had an emergency meeting that unfortunately prevented him from attending this morning’s rally for the Bruckner Boulevard affordable housing project.” City Hall says the mayor still stands behind the project— but some speculate that he bailed because a counter-rally by opponents of the Bruckner rezoning and the “Just Home” project had already formed at the rally site, and it was getting testy. 

If the mayor does, in fact, want to “Get Stuff Done,” especially projects that he claims to support, that might mean facing your critics head on. Or at least not complaining when you do have to see them

Here’s what else is up today:

  • Arrests for so-called “quality-of-life” violations are up under the Adams administration, just as they went up under the first year of the de Blasio admin. Nothing like ruining someone’s life over fare evasion or petty theft to make someone feel big and comfortable at City Hall. Study after study has shown that quality-of-life policing, also known as “broken windows” policing, has zero effect on the rate of more serious crimes.
  • “Friends” of Rep. Mondaire Jones are now saying that Working Families Party leadership reneged on an agreement to back him in the crowded primary for New York’s 10th Congressional District. The WFP endorsement ended up going to Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, after WFP said it took a member vote. WFP ended up spending $150,000 on Niou’s race, which she narrowly lost. WFP is still toying with the idea of a third-party run in November. We won’t hold our breath.
  • Two correction officers and a captain watched as Michael Nieves, a man incarcerated on Rikers Island, bled out after slashing his own throat last week, the New York Times reports. The officers and captains are now suspended, after they spent ten minutes before deciding to do anything about Nieves. Nieves is now on life support and is currently brain dead. 
  • A judge ruled that Tracy McCarter, a domestic violence survivor who says she killed her husband in self-defense, must be tried on murder charges, after Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office tried to reduce her charges. McCarter’s supporters charge that Bragg’s office has done too little to support abuse survivors like McCarter. “You cannot ‘stand with survivors’ and prosecute them at the same time,” Survived and Punished NY’s Siobhan Dingwall told the Post.
  • Roomster, the unfortunately named roommate-matching service, is being sued by NY Attorney General Letitia James, along with the Federal Trade Commission and five other states, for inundating “the internet with tens of thousands of fake positive reviews to bolster their false claims that properties listed on their Roomster platform are real, available, and verified." The co-founders of the company countered that the FTC was “not sincerely interested" in Roomster’s marketing plan. At the scrappy startup called Hell Gate, we’d never flood the internet with fake reviews. Instead, we will gladly burn through millions in venture capital for our new app “Doomster,” which matches you with the worst roommates in New York City, including a sentient rat, a Yoga tor the People teacher, and an Australian who’s interested in DeFi.
  • And finally, it’s the most wonderful time of the year:

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