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The NYC Mayor's Race Has Way Bigger Problems Than Where Eric Adams Lives
Adams is embroiled in a truly ludicrous scandal—but he would be a bad mayor for much more serious reasons.
On Tuesday, Politico posted a story headlined "Burning the midnight oil: Eric Adams’ mysterious whereabouts off the campaign trail."
Eric Adams is the current frontrunner in the chaotically dumb New York City mayoral election, but the Politico story, which looked at various investigations into Adams' property portfolio and also tracked his late-night movements, essentially made the accusation that Adams probably does not live in New York City.
This is on its face a perfectly plausible theory. Adams is a former NYPD officer, a demographic which statistically prefers to live as far from the city they serve as possible, and is also a politician, a demographic that statistically prefers to lie about everything as much as possible. And Politico's "just asking questions" blog immediately struck a nerve, kicking off a news cycle that is both catastrophically dumb and completely engrossing.
On Wednesday, in the face of this story, Adams invited the press into his basement apartment at 936 Lafayette Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where he may or may not be registered to vote. This is the building (picture taken by yours truly):
This did not end the conspiracy that Adams does not live in New York City, however. No no no. Instead we have this:
That thread continues with a whole lot of unverified information and circumstantial evidence and comparisons of Instagram posts by Adams' extremely normal-seeming college-aged son. There are all kinds of bread crumbs: the shoes, the salmon in the fridge (Adams is vegan), the history of fridge pictures on Adams' own social media not matching up, and on and on. It's an extremely funny rabbit hole. I have gone down it as far as it goes. For what it's worth, the original thread-poster eventually comes to this conclusion:
This all seems very plausible. For an average person, it's very fun to speculate. It's also fun to speculate if you're one of his political opponents!
It got even more ridiculous, though. On Thursday night, Adams participated in a televised mayoral debate, and the very first question, which every candidate was asked, was, "Do you believe Eric Adams lives in New York City?" This went on for nearly six minutes, and included moments when, for example, Andrew Yang quizzed Adams about why his Zoom backgrounds in previous campaign appearances never seemed to match up with the decor in the Brooklyn house. Adams said again that he lived in Bed-Stuy, and then the debate moved on, but still: it was the first question.
The conclusion to all of this of course is that it doesn't really matter. Do I think the mayor of New York City should live in New York City? Absolutely. But Andrew fucking Yang doesn't live here either -- he left to go live upstate for the entire pandemic. I don't care one bit where he sleeps at night now. Michael Bloomberg famously lived in Bermuda for much of his mayoralty and he sucked, but Bill de Blasio has lived in the city for his whole term and he's also sucked. The point here is that while of course the mayor shouldn't live in Bermuda, if you're a bad politician, living in the city isn't guaranteed to make you a better one.
Yang and Adams are essentially the exact same thing: empty vehicles for corporate interests and active participants in Andrew Cuomo's grand plan to keep one of the bluest states in the country from doing anything remotely progressive for the people that actually live in it. If we're playing the real New Yorker game, Kathryn Garcia probably wins, in that her career up until this point has been actually working for the city government in a variety of unglamorous roles, not nakedly seeking the most prominent office they can get in order to rack in kickbacks from special interests. This doesn't make her the best candidate for the office, of course, but it's at least nice to know that she has some experience serving the people whose votes she's seeking beyond "seeking their votes."
Does it actually matter if Eric Adams lives five minutes from me or 90? Does it matter how many trips the EZ-Pass in his government-provided vehicle shows to New Jersey? No. I don't care. In an ideal world, the mayor of New York City would live in the city, sure. The fact that the current frontrunner is Eric Adams, a former cop running on a right-wing "law and order" platform who is regularly known to bend campaign finance and ethics laws, shows that we're a little bit beyond a neighborhood purity test. The current runner-up spent the last two years on a vanity campaign for president and was most successful at convincing Reddit-pilled morons that saying the word "basic income" made him good at math. If the fickle gods of American elections see fit to have anyone other than these two assholes win, I'll be ecstatic. On some level, Adams probably will too. His condo in New Jersey looks much nicer than the basement bedroom he shares with his son in New York.