Monday, June 20, 2011

Some of the Markowitz back story: if he runs for mayor, his record, and personality, will get more scrutiny

Last week, we learned that Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who avoided a potential 2009 mayoral run thanks to the extension of term limits, is considering a 2013 mayoral race, after the implosion of Anthony Weiner's political career.

I pointed out that Markowitz would face not merely ridicule but scorn for his Atlantic Yards support, given his blatant lie to potential immigrant investors: "Brooklyn is 1000 percent, 1000 percent behind Atlantic Yards."

The Post's criticism

Markowitz surely has a record to run on--he will credit his leadership for the "renaissance" of Brooklyn (debatable), but can claim innovations (some with dubiously gained private funds) like the Brooklyn Book Festival, Dine In Brooklyn, as well as a capital budget geared to big projects like his (now-stalled) Asser Levy Park bandshell.

The New York Post, in a 6/18/11 editorial headlined When beeps fly, slammed the aspirations of not only Markowitz but Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio:
Truth is, beeps haven't had much on their plates since 1990, when their powers were sapped and they became figureheads with expense accounts.

Likewise the public advocate, who is nominally the No. 2 official in New York, but whose role is mostly limited to smiling and collecting a paycheck while offending no one and waiting patiently for the mayor to depart.

Well, the offices have relatively light duties, but they are what the officeholder makes of them. Stringer and other Borough Presidents have paid more attention to policy than has Markowitz.

And another Public Advocate, say Norman Siegel, might have prioritized policy more than de Blasio.

So it's the people, not the job.

Markowitz's prickliness

Should Markowitz run, inevitably his prickliness will get more attention. Consider the letter he sent to a Bergen Street resident who organized an art project because she was concerned local shopkeepers would be driven out by Atlantic Yards.

Markowitz sarcastically reminded her that none of the project would be located on Bergen Street but somehow failed to recognize that such projects have ripple effects, including displacement.

Before his previous putative run, a 12/10/07 New York Post article headlined B'KLYN'S CLOWN PRINCE MARTY DARES TO 'BEEP,' PERCHANCE TO DREAM described "this lame-duck Beep - who's better known for handing out proclamations and hosting events than influencing policy" and his personality:
Some political operatives say Markowitz is pricklier than his loveable public image.

...Another, Eric Demby, wrote a freelance story for The Post two weeks ago about the mayoral race [THE AMAZING RACE, 11/25/07] but failed to mention his ex-boss in it. Markowitz was later the topic of a Page Six item alleging he was "seething mad" about the omission.

Demby backed Markowitz's claim that his ex-boss wasn't fuming when the two recently met up at Borough Hall, but Markowitz's voice grew louder when recalling the confrontation.

"All I said," he recalls in a thick Yiddish/Brooklynese accent, "is: 'What am I, chopped liver that I'm not mentioned even?'"

The operatic 2005 re-election video

The New Media Firm, producer of the entertainingly operatic 30-second video for Marty Markowitz's first re-election bid in 2005 (with the lyrics "'55 Dodgers/Brooklyn Nets), said, "This ad tried to put all that Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz accomplished in his first term in one ad - and we ALMOST fit it all in...."



"As Brooklyn as they come"

Also check out the 2005 re-election mailer embedded below, which touted his work to bring "new jobs, new tourist dollars and new opportunities to Brooklyn" via a new cruise ship terminal. The upshot:
Four years ago, Marty Markowitz promised that he would be Brooklyn's chief advocate, biggest promoter, best salesman, greatest defender and most enthusiastic cheerleader. He said that we would have fun, and turn his love of Brooklyn into results for Brooklyn. Not only has he kept his promise, he's exceeded every expectation.
Of course, Markowitz later took a free ride on the Queen Elizabeth II, paying for his wife, in a trip cleared by the city Conflict of Interests Board because he was pursuing a city purpose. (Here's coverage in the Brooklyn Paper, which reported separately on his three ship lectures regarding Brooklyn tourism, and the New York Times.)

Markowitz 2005 Re-Election Mailer

The 2009 campaign mailer

As shown in two pages below (click on graphics to enlarge), the mailer consists of endless photos of Markowitz meeting Brooklynites and presiding over things Brooklyn, including Dine in Brooklyn, the new cruise ship terminal, the Coney Island circus, and even a soccer team.

Absent of course was Atlantic Yards.



Three drivers

The video and mailer certainly attest to Markowitz's energetic efforts to boost Brooklyn, but there's some questionable behavior that a more vigorous opposition might have raised.

As The New York Post reported, 3/27/11, in Driven to excess: Beep's rides cost 177G/yr:
In an unusual arrangement, the ebullient beep has placed his three drivers on staggered, 16-hour shifts so someone will always be available to wheel him around town between 8 a.m. and midnight, seven days a week.

...Once the beep packs it in and there's nothing more doing at Borough Hall, the driver on duty is allowed to go home. Of course, he keeps getting paid until midnight.
Taxpayers pick up the tab of $177,372 a year, not including overtime.

It's all within the city's lax rules, since the Conflicts of Interest Board has decided that elected officials with government vehicles can do just about anything they want with them.
One Markowitz driver, according to the Post, supplements his $64,896 salary by selling ads for Bandshell magazine, the program distributed at Markowitz's Seaside concerts. While that's not an official conflict of interest--Bandshell gets no city money--it's still fishy, as the magazine shares an office with Seaside, which does get city money.

According to 2009 statistics, while Markowitz had three drivers, he had four staffers working on planning/land use issues.

A driver's accusations

The Post reported 11/15/04, in BEEP 'BOOZE' BOMBSHELL - EX-DRIVER ACCUSES BROOKLYN'S MARKOWITZ:
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is a heavy drinker who would often use his official vehicle for personal chores - lights, sirens and all, one of his former drivers charges.

Mario Nicholas, upset that Markowitz allegedly left him out in the cold after an on-the-job injury, is telling these eye-popping stories about his ex-boss:

* The BP never went to dinner without a bottle of wine. In fact, he kept a stash of bottles in his official vehicle.

...* Jamie Markowitz would visit her husband at lunch and then ask to be driven back to her job three blocks away.

Asked to comment, Markowitz's office issued a three-sentence response:
"Mario Nicholas is a disgruntled former employee. It is sad he would resort to the lowest kind of unfounded personal attacks. However, on a personal level, the borough president is sorry for his family misfortune and only wishes him well."
I haven't seen any updated beyond the Daily News report 4/29/08, in Beep, beep - Marty Markowitz desperately seeks driver, that a job ad asserted that "confidentiality is a must - apparently a prerequisite ever since a former driver claimed Markowitz stashed wine in his black SUV and used emergency sirens to bypass traffic, among other abuses."

Other issues

Other issues that might deserve more scrutiny: Markowitz's purges of Community Board members, his use of prison labor at concerts (cause of Curtis Mayfield's awful injuries?), his wife's scooping up of valuable freebies at a fundraiser, and his fine for using his Chief of Staff as his lawyer in buying a house.

1 comment:

  1. i'd love him to run, just so i can watch him go down. what a pig.

    ReplyDelete