Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Marty to BKLYN magazine: "I don't have to give you 'why'"
The item, in its entirety:
We were heartened when we heard that Marty Markowitz is now calling for a reduction in the scale of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards development--the project he's been selling to the public since 2003. Could the borough president finally have awakened to at least some of the concerns of so many of his constituents? Still, we couldn't help but wonder what took so long. "I thought it was prudent to wait until the project became real," he told 718, explaining that it wasn't real until the lead agency--the Empire State Development Corp.--and the developer--Forest City Ratner--were formally in place. We wanted to know why it was prudent to wait, but Marty replied, "I don't have to give you 'why.'" Not words you want to hear from a public servant, especially one who has always marketed himself as the quintessential man of the people. But okay. When 718 asked him if he's going to stand firm and demand that Ratner & Co. come up with a proposal more in proportion to the brownstone neighborhoods around it, Markowitz stated, "I don't work for Bruce Ratner and Forest City Ratner. I work for the residents of Brooklyn. Those are my bosses." Well, then, prove it. Demonstrate for us, please, how much sway you have over the Patakis, the Bloombergs, the Garganos, and the Ratners.
The challenge is a good one. After all, a 4/25/05 profile of Markowitz in the New Yorker, headlined MR. BROOKLYN: Marty Markowitz—the man, the plan, the arena, portrayed Markowitz as quite responsive to Bruce Ratner:
In the car, Markowitz’s cell phone rang, and the voice of a female assistant announced that “Bruce” was on the line.
“Yes, sir, how are you doing, Bruce?” Markowitz said, picking up the handset and falling silent as he listened. Bruce Ratner, it appeared from Markowitz’s responses, had some urgent questions about the way discussions concerning waterfront development in Williamsburg and Greenpoint might affect his own project. Markowitz, whenever he could get a word in, tried to be both conciliatory and upbeat. “I understand,” he said; and then, “I wish I knew, but I don’t know”; and “It’s hard for me”; and “That’s absolutely right.” Finally, he told Ratner to call someone in his office—better yet, he would have that someone call Ratner.
Across the street, a small huddle of Boerum Hill residents handed Markowitz a sheaf of plans showing an arrangement of planters and greenery they would like to see in front of the restored subway kiosk. Perhaps, a resident suggested, Forest City Ratner might be persuaded to contribute the funds.
“Does Ratner want to prove he cares?” someone asked.
“I haven’t asked him,” Markowitz replied testily. Then he went to look at the other side of the kiosk, which, another member of the group was telling him, would be a perfect place for a Christmas tree next year.