Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Markowitz defense/explanation: I did it for Brooklyn (plus a letter the Times didn't print)

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has a letter in today's New York Times, responding to the newspaper's lengthy investigation of his private fundraising:
I wasn’t elected Brooklyn borough president to do nothing, and I certainly wasn’t chosen for my good looks. My office doesn’t set its own budgets, and gets only $300,000 in discretionary money for programming in a borough of 2.6 million people — less than 12 cents per person! I refuse to accept these limitations, and Brooklynites deserve better.

To make a difference for Brooklyn, I’m an aggressive supporter of economic development and proud of every project that has helped our borough reach new heights.

The nonprofits affiliated with my office have helped countless Brooklynites, sending thousands of kids to summer camp, entertaining millions at free summer concerts, playing host to the largest book festival in the Northeast and providing residents in need with toys and food during the holidays.

And to the businesses that have helped these efforts, I say, Bravo! And more companies should do the same.

If when I’m finished, I have made you prouder to be a Brooklynite, improved your life even a little bit and put a smile on your face, then I achieved what I set out to do.

MARTY MARKOWITZ
Brooklyn, Oct. 25, 2011
What's missing

Yes, Markowitz has used the money to serve the public--and to burnish his reputation, thus ensuring cakewalks in his two races for re-election. And Markowitz, of course, evades the question of whether those firms that donate get special favors.

Here's the letter I sent, but the Times didn't print:
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz shrugs off concerns about his fundraising by claiming "the people in Brooklyn know me." They don't. They know him as a showman, but not his machinations.

Nor do they know the extraordinary lengths he's gone on behalf of Forest City Ratner, his largest charitable contributor and developer of his beloved (but highly controversial) Atlantic Yards project. He even made a video, aimed to help Forest City recruit Chinese investors, claiming, fantastically, that "Brooklyn is 1000 percent behind Atlantic Yards."

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