On Wednesday night, New York City Mayor Eric Adams compared Jeanie Dubnau, an 84-year-old tenant advocate who fled with her parents from the Nazis, to a "plantation owner" after she berated him for allowing stabilized rents to go in the city.
In a video from the meeting, Dubnau can be seen confronting Adams about the NYC Rent Guidelines Board voting last week to raise rents by six percent. "You raised the rent," she shouted, to which Adams claimed that he doesn't control the board.
"We are talking about the rent guidelines board that you said, before and after that you supported those hikes," Dubnau responded while pointing at him. "Why in New York City where real estate is controlling you? Mr. Mayor, why are we having these horrible rent increases last year and this year?"
Mayor Adams shot back, "Okay, first, if you're going to ask a question, don't point at me, and don't be disrespectful to me. I'm the mayor of the city, and treat me with the respect that I deserve to be treated."
"Don't stand in front, like you treating someone that's on a plantation that you own," he continued. "Give me the respect I deserve and engage in a conversation up here in Washington Heights. Treat me with the same level of respect I treat you. So don't be pointing at me. Don't be disrespectful to me. Speak with me as an adult because I'm a grown man. I walked into this room as a grown man, and I'm gonna walk out of this room as a grown man."
"I answered your question," he concluded.
Dubnau told the New York Post that she felt Adams' response was a "deflection" to avoid answering her question. “The main point is that the mayor has shown he’s an enemy of all the rent-stabilized tenants in New York City,” she said.
She said, "You know, Mayor Adams is a landlord stooge and the enemy of tenants in New York City. He gets millions of dollars from real estate. That’s the main issue here.”
"He didn’t have an answer,” she continued. "That was just a deflection that’s all, because he doesn’t have any answers. He doesn’t have any answers. He can’t answer me so it’s a deflection."
"He probably is aware of how the entire tenant population and many working-class people have turned against him with time," Dubnau speculated. "When he first answered he said something about his own tenants. He’s a landlord himself. He said ‘Oh, I don’t raise the rent on my own tenants.’ Who cares about his own personal tenants? He’s raising the rents on thousands and thousands of people in New York City.”
“The reason I went was because I thought we’d have the opportunity to speak which we did not, because the meeting was completely controlled by his people. And that’s why I had to stand up and spontaneously speak. We weren’t being called on. It was a person chosen by his people at each table who were going to speak," She concluded.
A spokesperson for the mayor, Fabien Levy, told the post the mayor stands by his comments.
According to the Daily Mail, Adams applauded the board's rate hikes in a statement last week.
"I want to thank the members of the Rent Guidelines Board for their critically important and extremely difficult work protecting tenants from unsustainable rent increases," he said. "Finding the right balance is never easy, but I believe the board has done so this year — as evidenced by affirmative votes from both tenant and public representatives."
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