Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Deputy Mayor Robert Steel says he resides in New York City, but facts paint a different picture

Wednesday, September 21st 2011, 4:00 AM

Deputy Mayor Robert Steel says he lives in flat on Ninth Ave. in Chelsea, but he was seen in golf attire at Connecticut home he owns.
Norman Y. Lono for News
Deputy Mayor Robert Steel says he lives in flat on Ninth Ave. in Chelsea, but he was seen in golf attire at Connecticut home he owns.

Deputy Mayor Robert Steel insists he lives in the city - but his wife, his Porsche, his Mercedes-Benz, his Lexus and his four yappy dogs all live in Connecticut.

"Where would you rather live if you were a dog?" Steel asked when the Daily News confronted him in the driveway of his extravagant Greenwich mansion. "I'd rather live here."

City law requires all top city officials to live in the city.

Although most major unions have negotiated the right for members to live in the suburbs, Mayor Bloomberg issued an executive order insisting that top officials - except those granted a waiver - reside in the city.

Just 32 employees have been granted that waiver. Steel never requested one.

That means he had 90 days to move to New York after becoming deputy mayor for economic development in August 2010.

The 60-year-old former Goldman Sachs and Wachovia executive was living in a five-bedroom, five-bath, 7,438-square-foot manor - tucked into 7 acres of rolling hills - that he and his wife bought for $5.7 million in 1994, records show.

He began renting a four-bedroom luxury apartment on Ninth Ave. in Chelsea and switched his voter registration to the Manhattan address on Sept. 17, 2010.

A slew of other records put Steel in Connecticut, though:

- The Greenwich clerk's office has dog licenses for four Steel dogs: a Welsh springer spaniel named Duke, a Labrador retriever named Jack and two Yorkshire terriers named Lulu and Charlie.

- The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles counts four luxury cars registered in Greenwich: a 2005 Porsche Cayenne, a 2008 Lexus LS 600, a 2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK 430 and a 2009 Chevy Tahoe JK. Steel renewed three of the registrations after becoming deputy mayor.

- Steel, who was a cabinet undersecretary for President George W. Bush, listed the Connecticut address on several campaign contributions, including two that list his occupation as New York's deputy mayor.

- Steel's wife, Gillian, also listed the Connecticut address on campaign contributions in the past year. She's registered to vote in Connecticut.

- Steel changed his driver's license to the New York address in May - nearly a year after claiming he'd moved to Manhattan. State law requires New Yorkers to update their licenses within 10 days of moving.

Still, he maintains the Chelsea rental is his primary address.

When The News visited his Greenwich mansion last Sunday afternoon, his wife initially told a reporter Steel wasn't home because he was "in New York."

Moments later, he pulled up wearing golf shoes, shorts and a preppie sweater.

He angrily insisted he was just visiting Connecticut. "I can't remember the last time I was here on a weekday," he said.

Asked about the dog licenses, he said the pooches live in Connecticut - but he does not. "Why would I bring my dogs to New York?" he asked repeatedly.

He dismissed questions about the political contributions, saying the campaigns were mistaken.

He said his cars are registered in Connecticut because that's where he uses them, taking a car service into the city - at his own expense.

Like Bloomberg, Steel forgoes the six-figure salary that comes with his job and is paid just $1 a year. He says he files his taxes in New York at "significant" personal cost.

He declined to offer proof. The mayor's office refused to release his tax return.

"I've done everything I'm supposed to do," Steel said.

eeinhorn@nydailynews.com

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