Thursday, December 17, 2009

When Markowitz played poor at the affordable housing information session, he and his wife had a down payment in hand

There's more than one sour note regarding Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz's purchase of a home in Windsor Terrace.

As the Daily News reported, Markowitz used his chief of staff, Carlo Scissura, as a lawyer for the deal, even though city lawyers can't represent their public official bosses in private legal matters.

Markowitz at first denied Carlo Scissura was involved. Then his spokesman contended that the law applies only to lawyers working for the city as attorneys, not as chiefs of staff. Maybe, but isn't the point to not take advantage of your employees?

Markowitz and affordable housing

But the purchase, and the funds behind it, also undermine one very conspicuous "man of the people" claim Markowitz made in the midst of the Atlantic Yards debate.

At a 7/11/06 affordable housing information session sponsored by Forest City Ratner, Markowitz declared, as I reported, that “this is an exciting time to live in Brooklyn,” but, regarding new developments, “Sadly, almost all are beyond our reach—yours and mine.”

I noted that Markowitz earned $135,000, and eats a lot of free meals.

Now the Daily News tells us that about $750,000 of the down payment for the $1.45 million house came from the sale of a Manhattan Beach home Markowitz's wife Jamie Snow inherited from her parents.

And a check of records suggests that Markowitz and Snow had that money in hand when the BP appeared at that affordable housing information session.

Snow's mother died on 7/7/04. The family house was sold on 2/7/05 for $1.4 million, with Jamie Snow Markowitz, her brother, and her mother's estate listed as the sellers. The affordable housing information session came 17 months later.

Update

The Daily News reports that Markowitz also got $255,000 (out of a $350,000 settlement) for a 2001 slip-and-fall experienced in Albany but the subject of a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn:
The Econo Lodge tried to move the $5 million case out of Brooklyn, citing the borough president's "close personal and political ties to several judges," but an appeals court allowed the suit to continue in Brooklyn.

...What might not be settled is Markowitz's use of his chief of staff, Carlo Scissura, as a lawyer for his home closing. City law bars public servants from representing their bosses in private legal matters.

A Markowitz spokesman said Scissura did the work on his own time and wasn't paid for the service that typically costs several thousand dollars.

"He was using his supervisory position to get free legal services from an employee," said Susan Lerner of Common Cause, a government watchdog.

"This not only appears to be an illegal gift, it's a shocking display of hubris," said Dick Dadey of Citizens Union.

1 comment:

  1. What about Markowitz's "slip-and-fall" settlement with New York City? Isn't it just a bit unseemly for the Brooklyn Borough President to sue New York City for an alleged sidewalk fall? Anyone know more about this case? Enquiring minds wan to know.

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