Friday, December 10, 2010

The editorial that hasn't (yet) appeared: "Shame on you, Marty Markowitz, promoting Atlantic Yards in China as if there's no opposition"

There's still time to pick up on the news I broke Wednesday, with audio from China, about Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.




Appearing on a video shown in China to millionaires who might invest in the Atlantic Yards project in exchange for green cards, Markowitz claimed, incredibly, "All I can say, Brooklyn is 1000 percent, 1000 percent behind Atlantic Yards, and we invite Chinese investors to join with us, because there's nothing better than China and Brooklyn together."

Below is an editorial it might merit. [Update: the video and Markowitz's explanation are here.]


Shame on two-faced Marty Markowitz, promoting Atlantic Yards in China as if there's no opposition

Love him or hate him, we can always expect Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz to speak his mind, to not shy away from a dispute, and to display that healthy Brooklyn attitude of engagement with respect.

As New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said 2/27/08 about Markowitz, “People like somebody that they think is honest and open. They don’t have to agree with them on their policies. They want to think that that person is trying and is honest and is real, and I don’t think anybody can question that Marty Markowitz is as real as they come. He says what’s on his mind."

We'd like to think Markowitz is honest and open, and as real as they come.

When it comes to Atlantic Yards, the project Markowitz has supported to the hilt for more than seven years, unfortunately he's not.

We remember how Markowitz joined Brooklynites in protesting how the design for the project's flagship office tower, in contradiction with developer Forest City Ratner's (FCR) initial pledge, blocked the iconic clock of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower.

In what was portrayed as a compromise, FCR reduced the height of the tower, though it would still block the clock. Markowitz dutifully praised the reduction in height but ignored his earlier request regarding the clock.

The pattern continues. Markowitz in October backed out of a plan to take a privately-funded trip to China to support Forest City Ratner's effort to get a no-interest loan from Chinese millionaires interested in trading purportedly job-creating investments for green cards.

Still, he did his best to support the project--which could save the developer at least $191 million while delivering questionable public benefits--from afar. [Update: maybe less, perhaps $128 million.]

Markowitz appeared several times in a video aimed to convince potential investors that this distant, hard-to-grasp project was a valid one, likely to bring green cards and ensure the return of their capital.

"All I can say, Brooklyn is 1000 percent, 1000 percent behind Atlantic Yards, and we invite Chinese investors to join with us, because there's nothing better than China and Brooklyn together," the Borough President declared.

His statement is laughable. First, there's no way Brooklyn is "1000 percent behind Atlantic Yards," and Markowitz knows that. The borough is divided, and many people are indifferent.

Moreover, clownish lines like "there's nothing better than China and Brooklyn together" simply distract potential investors from looking closely.

His statement is also grimly disturbing. Markowitz was elected to fulfill a public trust, not to boost the borough's most powerful developer.

Markowitz has every right to support Atlantic Yards and to devote some of his office's resources to that end.

He doesn't have the right to lie, here or overseas, regarding Atlantic Yards.

And he should have the sense to recognize that Forest City Ratner's plan to raise money from immigrant investors tests the spirit if not the letter of federal immigration law.

Shame on you, Marty.

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