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October 15, 2008 / Brooklyn news / Politics / Downtown / Bloomy in the ’Hood

Bloomy: Marty is ‘probably’ good

The Brooklyn Paper

Mayor Bloomberg offered only lukewarm support on Tuesday for his embattled ally Borough President Markowitz, who’s come under intense ethical scrutiny since The Brooklyn Paper reported last month that his private charity has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Bruce Ratner, the Atlantic Yards developer who has enjoyed strong support from Markowitz.

Government watchdogs called the charitable donations a “payback” for Markowitz’s cheerleading of the $4-billion project, and the city comptroller howled after some of the money was doled out in no-bid contracts.

This week, it got hotter for Markowitz, with the New York Post reporting that Bloomberg himself also gave millions to the Beep’s charity. A Post editorial called Markowitz “reprehensible,” and demanded the elimination of the largely ceremonial borough presidents.

But Bloomberg, making a stop in Downtown Brooklyn on Tuesday, defended Markowitz and his fellow borough leaders — well, sort of.

“They [Markowitz and the four other borough presidents] are probably worth the money,” Hizzoner said.

Markowitz’s office runs on a yearly budget of $5 million, employs 84 people — including a $45,000 proclamations writer — and boasts a fleet of seven cars.

Even as Bloomberg was somewhat tentative about whether the city is getting enough borough presidential bang for its taxpayer bucks, he did say that Markowitz stood out from the crowd.

“Borough President Markowitz has been one of the most aggressive ones. … [He] calls all the time for the mayor to come cut a ribbon or something,” Bloomberg said, referring to himself in the third person.

Markowitz, a former state Senator from Flatbush who is nearing the end of his second term (his last, if term limits remain in place) intentionally ducked city oversight when he awarded four no-bid contracts from his Best of Brooklyn charity at just one dollar less than the threshold for an automatic review by Comptroller Bill Thompson, who frowned on the chicanery.

“The contracts … were clearly meant to circumvent the transparency [of] the contract registration process,” Thompson’s spokeswoman Laura Rivera said in a statement.

Other documents obtained by The Brooklyn Paper showed that Markowitz’s Best of Brooklyn reaped hefty contributions from Ratner; his company, Forest City Ratner; its executives; and subsidiaries. All told, the donations have been between $680,000 and $1 million since 2003 — the year Ratner unveiled Atlantic Yards, which has enjoyed unbending support from Markowitz.

The borough president told The Brooklyn Paper in a statement that he obeyed the letter of the law.

“Borough presidents have the absolute right to contract funds … in the manner of Best of Brooklyn, and these contracts, as per the [city’s] rules, are not required to be bid out,” the statement read.

On Tuesday, he went further.

“We want to accomplish things and to accomplish things, you need money,” he told The Brooklyn Paper, an hour before Bloomberg spoke about the Beep. “I guess no good deed goes unpunished by the media.”

He did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on Bloomberg’s lukewarm endorsement.

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al pankin from downtown says:
Marty is a great brooklyn booster with experience, not just a bunch of hot air. at least he does thing for the boro. I'm glad he gets alot of money from bruce rattner, mr. rattner is very civic minded and a good community neighbor, the more he contributes to the local causes the better it is for brooklyn.
Oct. 15, 2008, 1:35 pm
Chris from Park Slope says:
Marty has done a lot for Brooklyn. He is well worth the money his department commands as he has increased tourism & started the dine in Brooklyn that helps local Brooklyn restaurants. In fact i agree with nearly everything Marty does....except the Brooklyn Yards! Rattner is a typical Corporate businessman who does not care who he hurts in his quest for personal glory. Some great areas have been called blighted because of this greedy man. Boo to Rattner Hooray for Marty!
Oct. 15, 2008, 3:25 pm
wundrin from downtown says:
When did the Mayor tell Marty not to bother running for Mayor since he was going to pull his term limits power grab?
Oct. 15, 2008, 4:53 pm

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