Thursday, December 26, 2013

Another self-serving, defensive Markowitz valedictory; also, a barely reported boost from the arena: the Camp Brooklyn gala

In another valedictory this week, this time in the New York Observer, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz "seems to be trying hard to defend his brand":
He seemed to take issue, for instance, with his recent New York Times exit interview, although he never said so explicitly. “I believe too many reporters no longer present the news in a balanced way … For instance, you should never say, in my opinion: ‘Marty Markowitz, rotund; Marty Markowitz, jokester; Marty Markowitz–whatever words they use,’” he argued, among other criticisms.
Ah, Marty doth protest too much.

How many umpteen times has he made self-deprecating jokes about his fondness for eating, his limited willpower, his inability to lose weight? It's part of his shtick, and now he's disavowing it?"

And, as shown in the screenshot from a News 12 interview, he's undeniably jowly. "The greatest reward," he says, is when regular Brooklynites come up to him and say, "'Thank you, Marty. You've made us proud of Brooklyn again.' That's all I need."

The Atlantic Yards angle

He also tells the Observer:
They don’t like my stance about Atlantic Yards, although I’m very happy that they’re buying tickets and enjoying themselves. So that says it all, by the way." 
The sponsors
That's self-serving twaddle.

Sure, some people who opposed the Barclays Center (not, as written, "Barclay's") are going there and enjoying themselves (hey, they helped pay for it).

But that doesn't erase Markowitz's record of knee-jerk support for nearly every aspect of and change in the project, including--incredibly--making a video to entice Chinese investors by claiming that Brooklyn was "1000 percent" behind Atlantic Yards.

Nor does it erase Markowitz's record of dubious fundraising from those doing business in Brooklyn. Nor does it erase his dubious defense (as on Brian Lehrer) of Forest City's record in meeting its affordable housing obligation.

The real Marty

Sure, he's entertaining, and he tried hard, according to his lights, and his reign coincided with--and, to some extent, fostered--Brooklyn's boom. But this interview doesn't come close to capturing the psychodrama that is Marty Markowitz. For that, perhaps, you had to see his final State of the Borough address. And you had know that he got the venue--the Barclays Center--for free.

But Markowitz is surely helped by a compliant media, which even publishes, without criticism, his entertaining, taxpayer-funded press releases, such as his Christmas song. Instead, the press should be looking at where he gets his money, how he spends it, and how he operated his office.

A Borough President needn't be mainly a cheerleader: there are policy choices to be made, and other Borough Presidents put money into affordable housing and libraries, or reformed and bolstered Community Boards, in ways Markowitz did not.

More help from the arena

I've previously written that the Barclays Center was not made available during its first year to community groups, as per the Community Benefits Agreement, but it was used by Markowitz and Mayor Mike Bloomberg for speeches, given to them free.

It turns out a 3/13/13 Camp Brooklyn Community Service Award Gala, which raised money for Markowitz's summer camp, was held at the Barclays Center's 40/40 Club. See screenshots above, at right and below, and the full concert program at bottom.

I'd bet the venue was free or below cost, given that Forest City Ratner, the Barclays Center, the 40/40 Club, and Barclays itself were listed as sponsors, and Forest City Chairman Bruce Ratner was one of the two honorees.

As noted by the Home Reporter in an article titled A total success, money raised would "send 120 low-income Brooklyn kids to camp this coming summer."
Also note how the rendering of the first tower, B2, contains a distorted, fantasy view from the south, suggesting that the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower is somehow visible. As I've written, it's not visible in the slightest.





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