Monday, October 04, 2010

Post: Feeling pressure (?), Markowitz pulls out of China trip, even though it was OK'd by the Conflicts of Interests Board

Maybe Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz just didn't want to answer questions posed earlier today by this blog.

The New York Post reports, in Markowitz pulls out of controversial China trip to benefit Nets arena:
Bowing to pressure fueled in part by a Post story last week, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz confirmed today that he’s pulling out of an all-expenses-paid trip to China.
Surely the pressure was fueled in part by the Post, but I have to think Atlantic Yards Report had a larger impact. And, actually, the trip would not benefit the Nets arena--that's the hype--but rather developer Forest City Ratner's search for low-cost financing for the railyard it's obligated to build.

The article notes that Markowitz was not, in fact, stymied by the New York City Conflicts of Interests Board:
He had planned to take the weeklong 7,000-mile trip this month to help his longtime pal -- developer Bruce Ratner -- peddle green cards to rich foreigners in exchange for investing in Ratner's cash-poor Atlantic Yards project.

The Beep won’t be accompanying Ratner, Peter Davidson, executive director of the Empire State Development Corp., and other officials on the trip -- even though the city Conflict of Interest Board earlier today green-lighted the trip for Markowitz by ruling it wouldn’t violate city ethics laws.
Did today's revelations drive decision?

So why did Markowitz drop out of the trip?
Markowitz through a spokesman denied caving in to heavy criticism from project critics, including postings today by the blog Atlantic Yards Report claiming Ratner and his contingent have over-hyped the projects benefits -- such as job estimates -- to sway potential Chinese investors. The blog was also the first to report about the planned trip last week.

Btw, taxpayers will pay for Davidson's trip, while Markowitz's trip was to be funded by the New York City Regional Center, the private company promoting the investment in exchange for green cards.

He was unwilling to answer questions when I approached him on September 29. Earlier today, I called the willingness to flack green cards without answering questions an "abdication of government."

(Photo by Tracy Collins)

AYR "claims"

According to the Post, I am "claiming Ratner and his contingent have over-hyped the projects benefits -- such as job estimates -- to sway potential Chinese investors."

Actually, I'm not claiming that they've over-hyped benefits. I'm proving it.

Any promotion that uses a 2004 quote from Sen. Chuck Schumer about 10,000 office jobs--office jobs destined for no-longer-planned office towers--is an over-hyped promotion. There's no debate about that.

3 comments:

  1. So...uhm, why isn't Markowitz going? Presumably he doesn't think there was anything wrong with him going, right?

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  2. How do we know that city Conflict of Interest Board actually ruled that Markowitz’s trip wouldn’t violate city ethics laws as reported by the Post? What if the board (if it ruled at all) just handled the question put to it with the standard bureaucratic tactic of a self-protective punt: Perhaps the Conflict of Interest Board carefully couched their opinion saying the trip was permissible only “if participation of the Chinese investors in the project will provide REAL (as opposed to over-hyped) benefits for the U.S., Brooklyn and New York public.”

    In theory the same precept that the U.S. and New York public should be actually and truly benefitted should apply in determining the propriety of allowing Peter Davidson, the executive director of the Empire State Development Corp., (and any other public officials) going along at the trip at taxpayer expense.* Theoretically, that benefit should be a benefit ESDC was statutorily set up to provide, but maybe Mr. Davidson is not going to China in his ESDC capacity: Maybe he is going in his capacity as a board member** of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation since what he is selling the Chinese obviously involves a rather absurd gamble.

    * Marty Markowitz is subject to City ethics laws and Peter Davidson and ESDC officials who accompany him are subject to New York State ethics laws. They are in technical ways different but I wouldn’t split hairs on the applicability of this precept.

    ** For the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation board see:
    http://www.nycotb.com/newnycotb/AboutUs/BoardofDirectors/tabid/207/Default.aspx

    Michael D. D. White
    Noticing New York
    http://noticingnewyork.blogspot.com/

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  3. I think Marty should be commended for passing up this trip. He's been the subject of much criticism for his support of Atlantic Yards. Finally, he is backing off from peddling deals that seem predicated on lies. I would wish that Marty would see this move as a first step in restoring his badly damaged credibility as well as the reputation of the borough he represents.

    ReplyDelete