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At MetroTech tree lighting, Ratner, Markowitz, and a few pols; the crowd does not seem particularly enthused about the Brooklyn Nets

On Tuesday, November 30, I headed over to MetroTech for the annual tree-lighting ceremony and some curiosity about just what developer Bruce Ratner and Borough President Marty Markowitz might say, and who else would show up.

Once again, no elected officials from Downtown Brooklyn and adjacent districts showed up.

In contrast with the event two years ago, which featured representatives of four Community Benefits Agreement signatories, this year's event featured representatives of just one, Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD).

And Markowitz, though doing his very best to incite kids in the audience to get jazzed about the coming of the Brooklyn Nets (thanks to "Cousin Brucie"), generated a tepid reaction. Atlantic Yards backers will have to do a bunch more marketing to get the borough primed.

Who was there

Elected officials present were:
  • City Council Members Darlene Mealy (whose 41st District includes parts of Bedford Stuyvesant, Ocean Hill-Brownsville, East Flatbush)
  • Mathieu Eugene (whose 40th District includes Kensington, Prospect-Lefferts, Ditmas Park; parts of Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush)
  • Lew Fidler (whose 46th District includes Bergen Beach, Canarsie, Georgetowne, Starrett City, Flatlands, Futurama, Marine Park, Mill Basin, Mill Island, Gerritsen Beach, Madison and Sheepshead Bay)
  • State Senator Marty Golden (whose 22nd District ranges from Bay Ridge to Gerritsen Beach).
Below, Bruce Ratner with Markowitz at right and Golden at left.

(Photos and videos by Jonathan Barkey)

Ratner's greeting

Ratner gave a brief introduction in his "customary humble, winsome" (as the Rev. Herbert Daughtry once said) manner: "It's a very special time of year. I always like to reflect on the last year," he said. "This past year was better than the year before, and this year will even be better."

It's unclear whether he was talking about Brooklyn or, more likely, his company.

"I want to thank you for all your support," he said. "I think this was our 18th year of lighting the Christmas tree. So that's a very special occasion, 18 years."

Either Ratner was just vamping, suggesting that every year is a special occasion, or having a having a flash of cross-religious insight, given that, among Jews, the number 18 is indeed special, indicating chai, or life.

Markowitz: Nets replace Dodgers

Markowitz returned to his favorite trope. "Now you lucky kids, let me tell you, when I was your age, almost, we had the Brooklyn Dodgers, many years ago, they left us for La-La Land, also known as Los Angeles," he declared.

"But because of Cousin Brucie, and Forest City Ratner, MaryAnne Gilmartin, and their great team at Forest City Ratner, two years from now, you're going to have a national team to root for once again, as they flee New Jersey and enter into republic of Brooklyn, USA," he said.

The Brooklyn Nets will destroy the NBA and become the NBA champs in the future," he continued. "How lucky you are that you'll experience this great thing with your families.

In the future. Markowitz isn't making any predictions, He's a little bit less precise than majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who notably promised in May, "If everything goes as planned, I expect us to be in the playoffs next season and championship in one year minimum and maximum in five years."

Also in the audience

Below, from left, Joe Chan of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, BUILD President James Caldwell, and another a BUILD staffer leader.

Below, Council Member Lew Fidler