Thursday, June 15, 2023

Conflicts of Interest Board Orders Former NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio To Pay $475K

Former Mayor Bill De Blasio
From Editor Betsy Combier:

"A 2021 probe by another city watchdog already concluded that de Blasio had misused the NYPD during his campaign—and also by getting police to help his daughter move apartments and drive his son to and from college...."

That is just a part of the story.

What about the scandal involving his wife?

Where has $850m gone? Bill de Blasio's wife can't account for staggering amount of taxpayer money that the NY Mayor gave her for mental health project

just sayin'........

Betsy Combier

Nick Garber, Crains New York Business, June 15, 2023

Former Mayor Bill de Blasio must pay a $155,000 fine and repay more than $319,000 in taxpayer money for improperly using city police as his security detail during his ill-fated presidential run, a watchdog agency ruled Thursday.

The order—the largest ever issued by the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board—stems from de Blasio’s four-month-long run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, during which he made 31 out-of-state trips from May to September 2019. An NYPD detail accompanied him and his wife, First Lady Chirlane McCray.

Bringing the detail on those trips cost the city $319,794 in travel expenses—not including salary and overtime, the board found. That “plainly” violates a city law barring officials from using city resources for private purposes, the board wrote.

“There is no city purpose in paying for the extra expenses incurred by that NYPD security detail to travel at a distance from the city to accompany the mayor or his family on trips for his campaign for President of the United States,” the board wrote in its order. “The board advised [de Blasio] to this effect prior to his campaign; [de Blasio] disregarded the board’s advice.”

The board said de Blasio must pay the combined $474,794 within 30 days, though he could appeal the decision in state court.

Attorneys for de Blasio immediately said they had filed a lawsuit to block the decision, arguing it would put elected officials at risk.

“In a time of unprecedented threats of political violence, the COIB’s reckless and arbitrary ruling threatens the safety and security of our democratically-elected public servants,” Andrew G. Celli, Jr., an attorney at the firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel, said in a statement posted on Twitter.

A 2021 probe by another city watchdog already concluded that de Blasio had misused the NYPD during his campaign—and also by getting police to help his daughter move apartments and drive his son to and from college. But de Blasio’s attorneys said he would appeal any ruling that he owed the city money.

In an interview published this week in New York magazine, de Blasio was frank about the failure of his campaign, which he terminated before entering a single primary contest.

“It was a mistake,” he said. “I think my values were the right values, and I think I had something to offer, but it was not right on a variety of levels. And I think I got into a place of just extreme stubbornness and tunnel vision.”

De Blasio was knocked several times for ethical infractions during his eight years as mayor, including for soliciting donations from people with business before the city, and for circumventing donation limits by routing money through two separate political action committees during his presidential run. Meanwhile, a Queens restaurant owner admitted to trying to bribe de Blasio by hosting free fundraisers for his mayoral campaign, though de Blasio called the claims made-up.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Texas Governor Abbott and Mayor Adams At War Over Bussed Migrants Arriving In NYC


Never would I have believed that I would feel such disgust with the government of my hometown City, New York, as I now feel.

Mayor "Swag" Adams is playing with people's lives by allowing the thousands of migrants to come to NYC and flood the city that basically cannot handle this many people adding to the public dole.

 Betsy Combier

Texas Gov. Abbott dares NYC Mayor Adams to ‘make my day’ in migrant war

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told Mayor Eric Adams to “make my day” in response to Adams’ threats to send New Yorkers to Texas to campaign against him. [Fox News]

by Bernadette Hogan, Desheania Andrews and Bruce Golding, NY POST, August 10, 2022

Here’s what NYC can expect from Texas border migrant surge this week

Abbott said the buses of migrants is giving Adams “a taste” of what border towns go through in Texas.
Matthew McDermott

 At least three more buses carrying migrants from Texas to New York City are on the way — with one expected to arrive within hours, a City Hall official said Tuesday.

“We’ve learned buses are arriving tonight and two more tomorrow,” Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manuel Castro told the City Council’s Committee on General Welfare.

Castro also testified that buses chartered by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to relocate migrants out of the Lone Star State would continue showing up in the Big Apple “basically daily.”

Abbott hired a charter bus company to transport the migrants but the company signed a non-disclosure agreement that prevents the city from getting precise details on its itineraries, Castro told reporters afterward.

“Officially, Gov. Abbott announced that a bus directly from Texas was arriving this past Friday,” Castro testified.

Abbott didn’t “warn us about this even though the bus had started their journey Wednesday and was to arrive Friday,” he added.

Fifty-four migrants got off that bus, and another 14 got off a bus that arrived Sunday, with some getting off at other stops, Castro said.

It’s unclear how many more migrants will be on the buses now headed to the Big Apple and how many were expected to disembark here.

Abbott’s office didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Abbott and Mayor Eric Adams have been trading barbs in an escalating war of words since Adams revealed last month that New York City’s shelter system was being overloaded by asylum-seeking migrants.

Abbott initially denied Adams’ accusation that the Republican governor was sending migrants to New York City but on Friday took responsibility for the bus that caught officials unawares when it showed up at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan.

Abbott — who in April began relocating migrants to Washington, DC, in response to President Biden’s “open borders policies” — called the Big Apple an “ideal destination” because of its generous treatment of homeless people.

City Hall has estimated that around 4,000 migrants have arrived in recent weeks.

Some have told The Post that federal immigration officials directed them here even though they don’t have family or other ties to the city.

Castro testified that “asylum seekers are arriving in a variety of ways,” with many “taking commercial public buses and arriving at many drop-off locations, not just Port Authority.”

Castro said some buses arrive “late in the evening or at night” after stopping first in the nation’s capital “and coming here.”

On Monday, The Post exclusively revealed that the city wants to open a new facility in Midtown Manhattan to process migrants and house at least 600 migrant families, with proposals from non-profit shelter operators due Wednesday ahead of a planned Aug. 15 opening.

Meanwhile, City Hall said Tuesday that 11 emergency shelters had been set up recently, with four in Manhattan, three in Queens and two each in Brooklyn and The Bronx.

Friday, July 15, 2022

NYC Mayor Eric Adams' Secret Office

 

Mayor Eric Adams and Phil Banks, his deputy mayor for public safety, nestled their offices within 375 Pearl St., commonly known as the Verizon Building (center). | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Are New Yorkers getting the joke made by Eric Adams when he plays "Mayor"? I guess some do, because we see it every day on TV, on social media, and in the newspapers. Eric Adams is not serious about his position as the chief politician of the City of New York, and certainly does not belong as the CEO of the NYC Department of Education (NYC has Mayoral control of the NYC DOE).

See my Who Are You Kidding Award.



Recall of elected officials is not permitted in New York, but I'd vote for any legislation that would bring a recall option to NYC.

Get Adams a spot on SNL, or give him a comedy show to star in. Anything but a position in political office, where he has access to public funds and may represent people who are serious about helping NYC be a better place to live and work.

‘You Can Tell I Have Swagger’: New NYC Mayor Eric Adams Gets Hilarious ‘SNL’ Treatment

 Betsy Combier

Eric Adams has a secret office

The yet-unreported workspace is the latest example of the fledgling mayor fiercely guarding his privacy as he acclimates to one of the most public political jobs in America.



NEW YORK — Mayor Eric Adams and a top deputy have outfitted offices in a highly secure tower near the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, availing themselves of a private hideout with sweeping skyline views that’s both minutes and worlds away from the bustle of City Hall.

The yet-unreported workspace is the latest example of the fledgling mayor fiercely guarding his privacy as he acclimates to one of the most public political jobs in America.

Adams and Phil Banks, his deputy mayor for public safety, nestled their offices within 375 Pearl St., a 32-story structure commonly known as the Verizon Building that declares itself “the most secure and resilient building in Manhattan,” according to interviews with 15 people who work in and around city government and are aware of the arrangement. The setup offers them what City Hall cannot: A covert space away from the prying eyes of City Council members, reporters and employees who work in the building and can spot much of the activity within.

The mayor already has a private office in City Hall, as do deputy mayors and a few top staffers. Most other employees either work in the “bullpen,” an open space that Mike Bloomberg instituted after becoming mayor 20 years ago, or offices in the basement.

And while City Hall is open to the public, visitors must enter through a metal detector at an exterior gate and are often asked by the NYPD to provide a rationale for their attendance.

Banks and Adams decided shortly after taking office in January to set up shop in the private building, where the NYPD, Human Resources Administration and finance and sanitation agencies lease space. The mayor occasionally occupies an executive office and conference room previously allotted to the city Department of Finance on the 30th floor of the 300,000-square-foot building.

The tower boasts panoramic views of Manhattan, the New York Harbor and the city’s East River bridges that put landlocked City Hall’s vista to shame.

“I love the water,” Adams said in January about the East River-adjacent mayoral home Gracie Mansion. “You take the water views away, I wouldn’t be in there.”

A spokesperson said he has only been to the site “less than a handful of times” and emphasized its proximity to 1 Police Plaza, given Adams’ focus on reducing crime. The aide did not answer questions about whether the space was renovated once Adams took office and which other staffers have shown up there, but said no one outside city government works from the building.

Those familiar with the arrangement, all of whom would only speak on the condition of anonymity, said the Pearl Street address is Banks’ primary workspace, while Adams occasionally seeks respite there — though his trips to the clandestine office have never appeared on his public schedule.

The secret sanctum also gives Adams and Banks closer access to the NYPD.

The building, which is owned by Sabey Data Center Properties, also has a parking garage, and its website boasts of “controlled street and loading dock access.” The arrangement allows the mayor to slip in unnoticed and head directly to his office, which has floor-to-ceiling windows providing expansive city views.

“It’s hidden away; cars can’t roll through here,” said one person who works in City Hall. Others remarked on his penchant for privacy, which became a flashpoint in the mayoral campaign last year as POLITICO and other outlets dug up details on his unconventional living situation.

Political activity, such as fundraising, is not allowed to take place in government offices, so it’s not uncommon for mayors to seek space away from City Hall to conduct that type of work. In his early days as mayor, Bill de Blasio occasionally carried out political affairs in the offices of his former consulting firm, BerlinRosen.

De Blasio was also known to call donors from his favorite haunt, Brooklyn’s Bar Toto, and often ordered staff to Gracie Mansion, the official residence offered to city mayors, for planning meetings. Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani at times conducted private government talks in a basement office of City Hall, according to one former administration official. And Bloomberg, a multibillionaire who maintained his own residence as mayor, had ample options for working elsewhere.

But mayors do not typically carve out off-site offices for official business, and Adams already has a stable of venues for politicking, including high-end bars and restaurants where he regularly meets with friends, donors and people who have business interests before his administration.

The Pearl Street edifice, which bears a red and black Verizon logo on its exterior, was built for the New York Telephone Company in 1975. It underwent a renovation in 2016, and its website now describes it as a posh, modern space with premium security.

“Flexible floor plate with endless potential. Unparalleled light and views in all directions. Power for any task,” the site reads. It ends the description inviting potential tenants to “step into the machine. Take control.”

Ironically, when asked on Sunday what he would change about working in City Hall, Adams suggested even closer quarters with the dedicated press corps that operates out of the public building’s “Room 9.” He reasoned that more visibility into his administration might yield better coverage of his achievements on crime-fighting, summer jobs for teens and screening students for dyslexia.

“So I think that if there’s one thing I would change, I would move Room 9 closer to my office,” he said, “so they can see how we’re doing some good stuff.”

On Wednesday, Adams said he had the “brilliant smart idea” of outfitting the office with cubicles for city staffers. He told reporters he’d been there no more than four times and bristled at reporting on his use of the highly secure, private building.

“How can a city location be an undisclosed location?” he said. “That’s just not making any sense.”

Georgia Rosenberg and Julian Shen-Berro contributed to this report.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Mayor Adams, The "Second Chance Mayor", Appoints Andre Mitchell To New Shooting Prevention Task Force

 

Mayor Eric Adams embraces Man Up! founder Andre T. Mitchell at City Hall after announcing the violence prevention leader will head a new shooting prevention task force, June 2, 2022.

Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

NYC Mayor Adams is at it again. It's so wonderful to see that he approves of people taking positions in his administration who have been cited for wrongdoing. The second-chance Mayor.

There are no people who could handle the jobs who have no history of corruption or fraud, I guess.

Just saying...

Betsy Combier

betsy.combier@gmail.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ.com
Editor, ADVOCATZ Blog

Eric Adams Defends His New Gun Czar Despite Group’s Mismanagement

“You’re talking about DOI? I’m talking about DOA,” says mayor of Department of Investigation probe that found financial impropriety and nepotism at Andre Mitchell’s Man Up! organization.
BY GREG B. SMITH GSMITH@THECITY.NYC
JUN 2, 2022, 7:37PM EDT
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY YOAV GONEN

With shootings on the rise in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday named as his new “gun czar” the head of a taxpayer-funded “violence interrupter” nonprofit whom investigators had found used the group to line his pockets and employ his relatives.

Andre Mitchell, executive director of the nonprofit Man Up Inc, will serve as volunteer co-chair of a task force addressing gun violence as part of Adams’ campaign to reverse the trend of mayhem that’s plagued city streets since just prior to the pandemic.

Since 2017, Mitchell’s group has won nearly $20 million in city contracts to perform “anti-gun violence” work from the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, an arrangement that greatly expanded even after the city Department of Investigation (DOI) in 2019 alleged financial improprieties and nepotism at Man Up. The most recent extension ends July 1.

And during the time City Hall extended the length and amount of the contract, there’s no record that Man Up filed tax documents with the state Attorney General’s Office or the Internal Revenue Service as is required of active nonprofits. The last document on file dates back to tax year 2018.

Man Up is one of several groups that rely on neighborhood leaders — some of whom have been convicted of crimes themselves but have done their time and are turning their lives around — to intervene with potential shooters before they act, by winning their trust and cooperation.

The Biden administration recently embraced this local tactic, announcing it would target increased funding for “evidence-based community violence intervention programs.”

Following the announcement of his appointment on the steps of City Hall, Mitchell admitted, regarding the issues DOI raised, “We didn’t know everything so we learned from our mistakes and we kept moving.”

But he also questioned how the financial impropriety and nepotism DOI cited are relevant now.

“After 14 years we had an inquiry. Understandable. It came about. We complied. We listened to whatever their recommendations was. We kept on moving. We continued to do the work. There was no criminality. There was no illegality. There was none of those things discovered. I don’t understand why is that still an issue when in fact we’ve actually grown since 2019?”

Adams, too, dismissed questions about the DOI findings, noting that he himself hired his own brother as a security advisor at City Hall. He also stressed the urgency of tackling gun violence: “You’re talking about DOI? I’m talking about DOA. People are dying.”

Added the mayor: “Some people say, ‘But what about his background?’ What about all our backgrounds? We are not looking for a nun. We’re looking for someone to be in the streets and embrace our people. We’re looking for the right person for the job. And AT (Mitchell) is the right person for the job.”
National Crisis

Adams is assembling the task force at a moment of national reckoning on how to tackle gun violence, supercharged by mass killings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas — and with a pending Supreme Court decision threatening to upend New York City’s own gun permit restrictions.

During his mayoral campaign Adams vowed to reverse a surge in crime. Yet since his arrival at City Hall in January, Adams has struggled to stem a rising trend of shootings that included gunfire that injured 10 in a subway car and the shooting murder of a passenger just days later.

There have been 502 shooting incidents this year through May 29, down slightly from the same period last year but up significantly from 311 in 2020 and 270 in pre-pandemic 2019.

Starting under former Mayor Bill de Blasio, Mitchell’s group has received millions of dollars in city contracts to help quell violence by attempting to intervene with individuals and groups that are behind the spike.

But he’s also attracted the attention of the city DOI, which in June 2019 issued a finding that after an extensive probe, they had discovered” potential violations” of Man Up’s contract with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

As first reported by THE CITY, DOI determined that some $15,000 in proceeds from a youth employment program that the group ran on Sutter Avenue in Brooklyn wound up in Mitchell’s personal bank account. Mitchell told investigators he was unaware of this deposit until he received a subpoena from DOI.

DOI also found Man Up had employed several members of Mitchell’s family, including a daughter and a son. The progeny exited the payroll after Man Up received a DOI subpoena, although Mitchell told investigators they left for “personal reasons.” Man Up’s director of finance also identified another Man Up employee as Mitchell’s “half brother.”

The group’s contract with the city specifically prohibited supervisors from overseeing relatives, and MOCJ told DOI that Mitchell did not seek permission to place his children on the payroll.

Mitchell also paid more than $29,000 to rent out a WeWork office that he admitted he only used “infrequently” so that he could “bring himself outside of [his] normal work environment.” DOI questioned the “efficiency” of this expenditure.

DOI recommended that MOCJ increase oversight of Man Up going forward, ensuring that the organization acted in compliance with conflict of interest rules and closely watching expenditures to make sure they’re effective.

Diane Struzzi, spokesperson for DOI, said that MOCJ “accepted and implemented the recommendations we made to them regarding Man Up. And MOCJ provided DOI evidence of implementation.”

But state charity bureau records show that while Man Up has been receiving millions of dollars in city contracts, the group has not filed required federal tax forms with the state attorney general for the last three years. The last filing is for tax year 2018 and was signed in November 2019 by Mitchell, who was listed as executive director with a $165,000 salary.

The tax forms also raise a question about how Mitchell spells his name: with one L or two. On tax forms filed with the state attorney general, it’s two Ls. With the records filed with the IRS it’s one L.

Mitchell did not respond to THE CITY’s questions about this. The state attorney general’s charity unit usually works with groups to get up to date with their filings, but if that doesn’t work they can impose fines and even revoke a group’s nonprofit status.

Man Up’s work with MOCJ have focused on what’s described in records as “anti-gun violence.” Its 2017 contract has been extended again and again, most recently in July. To date Man Up has been awarded $19.1 million for this work, with $12.7 million spent to date.

On Thursday, Adams made clear that addressing gun violence was a priority for his team, noting that Mitchell will chair a task force that will include Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell and all five deputy mayors..

“Every deputy mayor, the PC, everyone who impacts or touches the lives of the young people will be part of the solution of dealing with gun violence because we can’t continue to believe that if you’ve made an arrest you’ve solved the problem,” he said. “The problem is why are children, why do they feel they need to have a gun in the first place? That is where the failure takes place.”

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Edu Hermelyn, District Leader and Husband of Brooklyn Dems Boss Resigns From Mayor Adams' Administration

 

Mayor Eric Adams makes a housing-related announcement at City Hall on Jan 30.

Adams Advisor Resigns New City Job After Questions About Democratic Party Post
Edu Hermelyn, husband of Brooklyn Democratic Party chair Rodneyse Bichotte and a party leader himself, quits his paid position after THE CITY asked about rules forbidding dual government and political roles. Another top mayoral aide is taking leave to run against a Bichotte foe.
The husband of a top Brooklyn Democratic party leader resigned from his newly appointed position in the administration of Mayor Eric Adams on Friday — the same day THE CITY asked about rules that appear to prohibit his simultaneously maintaining a key political party role.

Edu Hermelyn, a district leader for the Brooklyn Democrats in Crown Heights, was only recently appointed as “senior advisor for strategic initiatives” at the Department of Social Services, City Limits reported.

He’s married to party leader Rodneyse Bichotte, who’s also a Brooklyn Assembly member. She was a staunch supporter of Adams in his campaign for mayor, and Hermelyn’s consulting firm earned more than $80,000 in fees on Adams’ mayoral campaign.

Bichotte speaks at the New York State Democratic Convention in Midtown, Feb. 17, 2022.
 
Hiram Alejandro Durán/ THE CITY


His resignation was revealed by a City Hall spokesperson after THE CITY posed questions about city rules that prohibit high-level administration appointees from holding political roles, including district leader.

The officials said Hermelyn was cleared by the Conflicts of Interest Board to serve specifically in the senior advisor role at the Department of Social Services. They said that because of an error in processing his paperwork, he was put on a different employment line — and that when the error was identified, he decided to resign effective Friday.


They did not offer further clarifications in response to additional questions.

Earlier in the day, Hermelyn didn't respond to requests for comment from THE CITY about his position or on the apparent prohibition of his holding onto the district leader role.

Brooklyn district leaders, who are unpaid, serve on the executive committee of the Kings County Democratic Party and are involved in a host of decisions that include voting on highly valued party endorsements of candidates for judicial seats.

The party chair's control over decision-making is based largely on the support of district leaders — making allies like Bichotte's husband essential to doing business.

Before Hermelyn's resignation became public, a spokesperson for a dissident group of Brooklyn Democrats was arguing that his dual government-and-political roles don't wash.

"The conflicts of interest are clear. A district leader appointed by the Party Chair — his spouse — now gets a government job from an elected official that he supported," said Tony Melone, communications director for the New Kings Democrats.

"Party leaders should put the voters in their district first. This June, voters will have a chance to elect district leaders who can bring integrity and transparency back to our party."

At an unrelated press conference on Saturday, Mayor Adams blamed unnamed “HR personnel” for the “error” of placing Hermelyn in a managerial position in city government. “Once that was identified, we rectified,” he said. “When things are brought to me, you know me, I get stuff done. No reason to act like, ‘Let’s see if we can cover something up.’ No. It was wrong.”

Leave of Absence

Another high-ranking official in the Adams administration, Pinchas "Pinny" Ringel, is meanwhile taking a leave of absence from his government job after THE CITY asked about his declared candidacy for Democratic district leader in Brooklyn.

A City Hall spokesperson said Ringel had been planning to take leave after forming a candidate committee, as required by city rules, but that out of an abundance of caution he would start the leave next week.

Ringel, an influential liaison between City Hall and Jewish communities, announced earlier this week he's running to serve as district leader — with the reported backing of party leader Bichotte Hermelyn — in a bid to dislodge an incumbent who supported Andrew Yang for mayor instead of Adams.

City records show Ringel, a longtime senior aide to former Mayor Bill de Blasio, was appointed on Dec. 26 in the final days of Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration as an $150,000-per-year executive assistant to the commissioner of the Department of Sanitation, after years on the payroll of the city's child welfare agency.

The publication Hamodia, which first reported on Ringel's bid for district leader in the 48th Assembly district covering Borough Park and Midwood in Brooklyn, said his actual role was assistant commissioner in the mayor's Community Affairs Unit, following a promotion under de Blasio last May.

Brooklyn election lawyer Howard Graubard — a frequent critic of the party committee — told THE CITY that given Ringel's duties, a district leader post should in fact be off limits under city personnel rules.

"It does not look to me like he's prohibited from running. It seems more likely that he's prohibited from serving," said Graubard, who tweeted about the restrictions Thursday.

"Back when I worked in the Mayor's Office, in a somewhat lower position than Pinny's, they forced me to resign from the Democratic County Committee," he wrote of his time in the administration of former Mayor David Dinkins.

Another high-ranking member of the Adams administration, former City Council member Mark Treyger, decided to step down from his Brooklyn Democratic district leader post as he took on his newly appointed role as director of intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Education in January, a source close to the Brooklyn party told THE CITY.

Reached by phone, Ringel did not respond to questions from THE CITY, and Treyger didn't immediately respond to a message-seeking comment.

Typically Ignored

A 2009 memo by the city Law Department details stringent rules governing political behavior by municipal workers, including the 1988 mayoral personnel order highlighted by Graubard.

It reads: "Management employees in mayoral agencies serving in un-classified, exempt or non-competitive titles or serving provisionally in competitive titles are not permitted to serve as officers of any political party or political organization or serve as members of any political party committee, including political party district leader."

The memo also highlights a section of the city charter that similarly prohibits city officials with substantial policy-making power from serving in political roles, including district leader.

The determination of which workers have policy-making duties is determined by agency heads, who are required to file a list of such employees with the city conflicts of interest board annually. Ringel wasn't named in the most recent list, according to COIB records.

Bob Croghan, president of the civil service union the Organization of Staff Analysts, said the rules prohibiting political roles for those appointed to high level positions in government have typically been ignored by mayoral administrations over the years.

"If you're a district leader, you're going to be deeply involved in politics," he said. "Does that mean you shouldn't be given an appointed job? An argument could be made either way."

Party Warfare

Ringel's attempt to become a district leader and Hermelyn's choice to remain one could spark further turmoil within Brooklyn's Democratic organization.

Political operatives have contended that Ringel is running at the urging of Bichotte and other Adams allies in order to take down current district leader David Schwartz — who has been at odds with party leaders on a number of issues, and endorsed former mayoral candidate Andrew Yang in the race for City Hall against Adams.

This week, a high-ranking Adams administration official reportedly called three City Council members asking them to rescind their publicly tweeted support for Schwartz, according to the New York Daily News.

All three newly elected Council members took down their tweets, the publication said.

Reached by phone, Schwartz declined comment.

Hermelyn, meanwhile, has faced public calls to resign from his district leader position after an incident late last year during a Democratic Party Zoom meeting in which he allegedly recited a sexist, raunchy song lyric in Spanish, which critics say was directed at a party rival. Hermelyn later claimed he didn't understand the words he had spouted off.

THE CITY is an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York.


District Leader, Husband of Brooklyn Dems Boss Lands New Job in Adams Administration
David Brand, City Limits, March 1, 2022

Edu Hermelyn, a Democratic district leader married to party leader and Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, has been named “Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives” in the city’s Department of Social Services (DSS)—a position tasked with smoothing relations with local elected officials, according to job listings.

The husband of Brooklyn’s Democratic Party boss is the latest campaign aide to land a gig in Mayor Eric Adams’ administration.

Edu Hermelyn, a Democratic district leader married to party leader and Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, has been named “Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives” in the city’s Department of Social Services (DSS)—a position tasked with smoothing relations with local elected officials, according to job listings. He may have his work cut out for him in some pockets of his home borough after he ignited intraparty tensions by reciting a vulgar Spanish-language song that seemed to target another elected official at a meeting last year.

But Hermelyn has remained a steadfast ally of the new mayor, who has close ties to the Brooklyn Democrats. Adams paid Hermelyn nearly $81,000 for consulting work during his successful campaign, according to financial records first reported by the New York Post.

City Hall officials declined to share Hermelyn’s new salary information, which will be available in the City Record in March.

“[DSS] Commissioner [Gary] Jenkins, just like Mayor Adams, is focused on hiring the best people to serve the best city in the world,” a City Hall spokesperson said. “Edu has been a tireless champion for New Yorkers during his time as a community organizer and will bring fresh insight to the Department of Social Services.”

A DSS spokesperson directed questions to Adams’ press office. Hermelyn did not respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment. 

City Hall provided little information about Hermelyn’s responsibilities, but job listings posted online last month describe an intergovernmental affairs role focused on building relationships with elected officials—a key concern for DSS, which encounters chronic “Not-In-My-Backyard” posturing from lawmakers over where to open homeless shelters and other decisions. DSS is comprised of the Human Resources Administration (HRA) and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS).

READ MORE: Carrión Takes Helm at NYC Housing Agency After Stint as ‘Worst Evictor’ Consultant

The responsibilities include “supporting the DSS Commissioner and HRA and DHS Administrators in the development and maintenance of strong political relationships that benefit the agency,” a job listing posted online in early February states.

Hermelyn could start close to home. His wife, Bichotte Hermelyn spoke out against a proposed family shelter in Flatbush last year. She opposed a plan to turn an unused Brooklyn College dorm into a shelter for families with children in January 2021, and urged the city to instead prioritize senior and student housing at the site, according to a statement reported by Bklyner.

“The most immediate needs of the district are affordable housing for CUNY students and seniors as well as supportive services,” Bichotte Hermelyn said in a joint statement with Councilmember Farah Louis and State Sen. Kevin Parker at the time.

The trio also ripped CAMBA, the Flatbush-based nonprofit service provider initially tapped to operate the shelter, calling the organization “ill-equipped to manage any proposed shelter based upon its poor track record with two other sites in the community that has demonstrated little to no progress with delivering critical services on-site.”

The city has since adjusted the plan so that the shelter will now house 200 women, with services provided by the organization Children’s Rescue Fund. The facility is scheduled to open this spring. 

Bichotte Hermelyn addressed the shelter again during a Community Board 14 hearing Feb. 7, telling participants she would be “immediately impacted” because the shelter would be located near her home. She said she did not outright reject the plan, however.

“We’re not anti-shelter, but we do have safety and security concerns,” she said, adding that she feared the facility would one day be converted to a men’s shelter. 

Department of Homeless Services Administrator Joslyn Carter responded to that concern: “I am [un]equivocally saying that we are not going to change the shelter to men,” she said during the virtual meeting.

Bichotte Hermelyn did not respond to calls or texts seeking comment for this story.

She certainly isn’t alone in her shelter skepticism. 

Elected officials routinely oppose the facilities in their districts, despite a right-to-shelter mandate in New York City and an entrenched homelessness crisis affecting every corner of the five boroughs. About 47,000 people, including roughly 8,400 families with children, spend each night in a DHS-contracted shelters, according to daily data tracked by City Limits. More than 60,000 individuals stayed in one of the city’s shelters in December 2021, the most recent data compiled by City Limits shows.

Hermelyn, who is of Haitian and Guyanese descent, could foster strong ties with the West Indian community, especially in Central Brooklyn’s 43rd Assembly District, where he serves a Democratic district leader. 

The role may also force him to work closely with Brooklyn lawmakers who have sharply criticized him and his wife.

In November 2021, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, State Sen. Julia Salazar, Assemblymember Martiza Davila and Hermelyn’s former boss, Assemblymember Diana Richardson, demanded that Bichotte Hermelyn step down as party boss and Hermelyn to leave his post as district leader after he recited a crass, sexist song during a party meeting held on Zoom. Davila and other attendees said the song seemed directed at her and inflamed longstanding tensions between progressives and more moderate members of the county party. Hermelyn has said he did not fully understand the song’s meaning.

The reform group New Kings Democrats has led the resistance to the current county party leadership and criticized Hermelyn’s appointment at DSS.

Despite Hermelyn’s disrespectful conduct towards fellow District Leader and Assembly Member Davila, current party leadership continues to reward connections and loyalty over all else,” said New Kings Democrats President Caitlin Kawaguchi.

Those intraparty disputes aside, Adams has remained loyal to the team that helped him narrowly win the Democratic primary before a landslide general election victory. He has hired a number of aides to work in his administration since taking office Jan. 1, including Jose Bayona as head of the mayor’s office of Community and Ethnic Media, Menashe Shapiro as deputy chief of staff, Tiffany Raspberry as senior advisor for external affairs and Stefan Ringel as a senior advisor. 

Adams’ chief of staff, Frank Carone, was formerly counsel to the Brooklyn Democratic Party.