Wednesday, August 05, 2009

After Myrick's off the ballot, no clear option for an anti-Markowitz protest vote in Borough President's race

Long-shot candidate Eugene Myrick, who was trying to challenge Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz in the Democratic primary, has been kicked off the ballot for having invalid petitions, leaving the only alternative to the incumbent a Republican (!) or a write-in.

(That's Markowitz, host of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Concert Series at Wingate Field in Crown Heights, joined on July 27 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and performers Anita Baker and Charlie Wilson. Photo by Kathryn Kirk. Three of the seven series sponsors are Forest City Ratner, Nets Basketball, and Barclays.)

The integrity of the process

Markowitz's lawyer, former state Senator Martin Connor, asserted (as per the Brooklyn Paper) that the challenge was to protect the validity of the process, and the Board of Elections agreed.

Now, the elimination of Myrick means that the significant slice of Brooklynites who might want to lodge an anti-Markowitz protest vote have no clear option.

In other words, even though Markowitz has disingenuously said that elections represent an alternative to term limits--the repeal of which he supported last year--the advantages of his incumbency, plus a weak candidate who didn't follow the rules, mean that there's no real alternative.

Myrick as candidate

Myrick had not exactly worked his way up in the political system. His biography describes him as a former schoolteacher in East New York who "spoke out at community school board meetings," but otherwise does not indicate him playing a role in community or civic organizations, other than having "reached out to several politicians from the bottom to the top in regards to housing issues, education concerns and a wide range of other topics."

With his wife, radio personality Kesha Monk, Myrick owns ChocolateBrides.com and Chocolate Brides Magazine. I can't be sure, but Myrick's effort may have been in part to gain publicity for his enterprises as well as to challenge Markowitz.

The RITDH alliance

Also, as Room 8 blogger Gatemouth (aka Howard Graubard, once a staffer for State Senator Connor) pointed out, Myrick had a dubious alliance with Jimmy McMillan of the fringe Rent is Too Damn High (RITDH) party.
Warning: the RITDH party web site web site opens automatically with a song/rap on the party theme.

As the Courier-Life reported, McMillan agreed to put Myrick’s name on his petitions, but those signatures were deemed invalid.

The issues in Brooklyn

Myrick's issue platform, though clearly encompassing issues of concern to Brooklynites (schools, parks, NYPD stop & frisk), had little to do with the actual powers of the Borough President's office.

Myrick was not yet prepared to critique Markowitz's deployment of his capital budget, his use of dubious nonprofits, his relationship with donors like Forest City Ratner, his failure to help neighborhoods sufficiently with planning issues, or even his sunny promotional publication Brooklyn!! (published by the Courier-Life chain).

Myrick did criticize overdevelopment and Atlantic Yards, and thus acquired support from some anti-AY activists.

Lack of a choice

Markowitz's leadership is worthy of public debate. But once-likely candidates like City Council Members Charles Barron and Bill de Blasio, state Senator Carl Kruger, and local activist Chris Owens were deterred by Markowitz's considerable war chest and name recognition.

So, in what would be the fourth-largest city in the country, the chief executive will stay in office without a serious challenge. Is that a testament to his record or a testament to the system?

The questions remain. Will anyone organize:
  1. public meetings in which Markowitz defends his record and takes challenging questions?
  2. an appropriate write-in for those wish to register their displeasure with Markowitz?
Meanwhile, an indie band called The Brooklyn What has an album called The Brooklyn What for Borough President.

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