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Eric Adams’ Would-Be Economic Czar to Remain in Private Sector

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Then-Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Carlo Scissura speaks about development in the borough, July 25, 2013.

Screengrab/CUNY TV

Mayor Eric Adams’ reported choice to head the city’s powerful Economic Development Corporation will not be taking the job after all.

Carlo Scissura told THE CITY he will remain as president and CEO of the New York Building Congress, saying in a statement that he is “thrilled to recommit to this historic organization.”

“This is the best way that I can serve the people of our city and state at this crucial time, to guarantee we build reliable mass transit, schools, open spaces and other crucial infrastructure that moves New York forward,” he said.

THE CITY reported last month that Scissura was secretly paid to advocate on behalf of a property owner he called a “friend” in dealings with city agencies — but city and state records show he never registered as a lobbyist.

Scissura’s potential EDC appointment, reported by the Real Deal, was one of several high-level Adams picks that have drawn ethics-related scrutiny.

That lists includes Phil Banks — an unindicted co-conspirator in a major NYPD-tied corruption case — who was tapped as deputy mayor for public safety. Adams also hired his brother Bernard to lead his security — originally at $210,000, reducing his pay to $1 a year after the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board ruled giving a family member a job for pay would violate ethics rules. 

Sources tell THE CITY that another controversial Adams appointee, chief of staff Frank Carone, pressed to put Scissura in the EDC job, which controls a nonprofit entity with major real estate holdings and $2 billion a year in contracts with City Hall. Carone was previously counsel to the Kings County Democratic Party and a power broker in Brooklyn politics.

City Hall heightened its vetting after THE CITY’s reporting, according to sources familiar with the situation, and Scissura retained a lawyer to assist in the process. 

A spokesperson for Adams did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Monday, Adams announced two new appointments billed as “economic development” officials, Vilda Vera Mayuga as commissioner of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection and Jose Ortiz Jr. as senior advisor for workforce development.

Rachel Loeb, an appointee of Mayor Bill de Blasio, continues to serve as EDC president and CEO. She told board members at a meeting last week that it was her final one in the role. EDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Real Estate Sideline

In a 2018 contract shared with THE CITY, Scissura agreed to assist property owner Tim Ziss with the sale of five parcels in southern Brooklyn, while heading the Building Congress. They included the site of a former Nathan’s Famous restaurant in Dyker Heights that was later sold to the School Construction Authority for more than $25 million, double what Ziss paid for it six months earlier. 

He also agreed to help Ziss with the takeover of an affordable-housing complex in Astoria, Queens — something city housing agencies said had delayed badly needed repairs to crumbling apartments.

The Bridgeview III apartments in Astoria, Queens.

Hiram Alejandro Durán/ THE CITY

Tenants at Bridgeview III, a 171-unit, eight-story complex near Astoria Park, told THE CITY that their apartments often lack heat, and need major repairs. 

Officials from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Housing Development Corporation had a legal battle with Ziss out of concern for the tenants, according to court documents. They alleged his attempts to take control of the building have kept apartments in shambles, and that lawsuits filed by Ziss have blocked a sale of the building to a different owner. 

Scissura was promised a bonus of $100,000 if he successfully secured a deal with the city for Bridgeview, according to the contract. 

In a statement to THE CITY, he said he told Ziss he couldn’t perform the work outlined after signing the contract, and did not receive the bonus. 

The contract appeared to describe lobbying activities and should have been registered, lobbying experts told THE CITY. For lobbyists, a performance bonus — also known as a “contingent retainer” — is illegal according to the City Clerk, which oversees lobbying in the five boroughs. 

A spokesman for the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, which supervises lobbying at the state level, did not respond to a request for comment. The general counsel for the City Clerk wrote in an email that the office has a “firm policy of not commenting on, or even acknowledging the existence of, any ongoing investigation(s).” 

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