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Beyond anodyne rhetoric from Borough Presidents, follow the money (Adams has much, and much from real estate)

A major feature in the New York Times Metropolitan section, Five Leaders on New York’s Five Boroughs, was supremely anodyne, perhaps inevitably so, given the brevity imposed. (The headline in print was "What Does a Borough President Want?" which should be answered as "to be re-elected," to be put on a path to higher office" and "to enact various changes," not necessarily in that order.)
Consider: The first two paragraphs regarding Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams--unopposed for re-election and already having announced his intention to run for Mayor in 2021--concerned his gym-like office and concerns about diabetes, which for him is not just an issue for the borough but also personal. Then, in full, the following exchanges:
What are Brooklyn’s biggest challenges?
New development. Our young people coming in need to understand that they are not the modern-day Christopher Columbus: They did not discover Brooklyn. Brooklyn was here long before they set sail, and if anything they need to be part of the greatness of Brooklyn and add their flavor, but not destroy what we are. If we’re not careful, gentrification could drive a permanent wedge between us. 
What do you hope the future of Brooklyn looks like?
I hope to see that the development continues, but let’s be responsible in our development. Let’s solve the homeless problem. Let’s find out how to make sure people stay employed so families can stay together.
Well, who would disagree that newcomers shouldn't ignore the past, that gentrification might cause tensions, and that it's important to pursue responsible development. As to solving the homeless problems and making sure people stay employed--and help those unemployed--who'd disagree?

The question is how to do it all, and Adams wasn't asked. Then again, he has limited power, budget, and responsibility--though measures of all. It's a lot easier to be a borough president than mayor.

The real question

It's fair to say Adams has pursued a broader, more inclusive agenda than his predecessor, Marty Markowitz. Then again, he came into office in a different time.

The more important question for Adams and his Borough President counterparts would be: how and when have you antagonized campaign contributors? (I don't know any high-profile examples involving Adams but will update when I learn more. He's on board with the BQX streetcar, for example.)

Adams has raised more than $610,000 in campaign funds, even as he runs unopposed for Borough President. He'll raise more over the years, and use that strategically, both aiding other elected officials or campaigns or contributing to nonprofit groups.

Looking at the numbers

Among some 780 contributions over three-plus years, detailed below, Adams had 50 contributors, with 17 at $2,000 and above, who identified themselves as being in real estate. Another 23 had the word "realty." Another 15 or so identified as a "developer" or in "development" associated with real estate (as opposed to fundraising).

Still others, like Eliot Spitzer (identified as Investor), Alexander Rovt (IBE Trade Corp.), and Jane Walentas (Artist), are directly or via family involved in real estate. Adams also got $2500 from a principal in a "regional center," a fundraising entity for EB-5 immigrant investor visas, involved in this project.

(By the way, I didn't see any contributions from those closely associated with Atlantic Yards, other than $2500 from Brooklyn Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark.)

Only two intermediaries were reported, one with only three smallish contributions. The major intermediary, Rabbi Joel Eisdorfer, was Senator Adams's liaison to the Hasidic community. He raised $24,650 from 14 contributors (several with seemingly Albanian names).

The contributions are sorted by amount, highest to lowest. (Scroll down this article for spending.)

Adams's expenditures

Adams' spending, also noted below, has mostly been for his campaign and for fundraising. But he could donate $10,000 to help his preferred Brooklyn District Attorney candidate, Ama Dwimoh, as well as smaller contributions to other races and political clubs. In other words, he's got a war chest.

The expenditures are sorted by amount, but notice that the two largest expenditures were refunded, though a successor to that firm was paid more than the equivalent of those two large expenditures in smaller increments.


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