Monday, April 15, 2013

Did "Cousin Brucie" diss Marty Markowitz by not attending the State of the Borough Address? Maybe not, but the FCR absence was odd

Early in his State of the Borough Address last Thursday, after saluting the Brooklyn Nets, Borough President Marty Markowitz offered "a special thank you to 'Cousin Brucie'--as I affectionally call Bruce Ratner, the CEO of Forest City Ratner."

"This is the house that Bruce built," Markowitz ad libbed, offering additional praise for the developer of the Barclays Center arena, the setting for the speech. (Use of the arena was donated, which sure sounds like an in-kind contribution to Markowitz's charities, which already operate with opacity.)

The crowd, perhaps 2000 people and surely all Markowitz fans, barely applauded for that mention,  though, had Ratner been there to take a bow, there surely would have been more cordial enthusiasm.

Where was Bruce?

So why wasn't Rather there? (He honored Markowitz effusively at the Barclays Center ribbon-cutting last September.) Perhaps there was a good reason, like another obligation. Then again, also not attending was Brett Yormark, the arena/team CEO, though Markowitz called him "the best-looking CEO of any sports team" and saluted his upcoming wedding to Elaina Scotto of "Brooklyn's famed Scotto family."

They didn't even send an emissary. Surely Forest City Ratner could have sent a stand-in to share the spotlight.

If not a diss, it was at least non-reciprocal. Markowitz had to ask himself: They couldn't show up for my swan song?

Why stay behind the scenes?

Was there a lingering fear that Ratner might get booed by the fraction of people who remember unmet promises of housing and jobs? (Unlikely.)

Was Forest City worried some reporter would buttonhole Ratner or another FCR official and ask why they donated the arena and what that was worth as an in-kind donation? (Maybe.)


Were they worried about some fallout from "Ratner and the Raccoon," one of Jim Windolf's "Bloomberg's Fables" in last week's New Yorker, about a "builder named Ratner who was cruelly treated by certain shortsighted Brooklyn residents"? (Unlikely.)

Still, it wasn't good publicity, as the moral of the fable was distilled into "Do not behave like the small-minded people who fail to recognize the importance of the construction magnates who make our city great."

Markowitz surely recognizes "the importance of the construction magnates who make our city great." Perhaps there will be a private event, away from the prying eyes of the media, where Marty and Cousin Brucie can savor their victories. The 40/40 Club, anyone?

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