How the Marty Markowitz Magic Happens

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Party with Marty!
Party with Marty! Photo: Melissa Hom

One of the reasons Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz has proved so popular (well, other than sponsoring events with taglines like "Party With Marty") is that he's been able to draw serious real estate developments to the borough. He's gone to bat for developers like Acadia Realty (behind the City Point project), and helped them get city funding. As the Times reports, they just so happened to give substantial donations to the charities that Markowitz runs, which have hauled in at least $20 million since 2003. (Markowitz took office the year before.)

The donors to the nonprofit groups range from huge corporations like Wal-Mart and TD Bank to local entrepreneurs, but they usually have one thing in common: They have a stake in city legislation, real estate projects, zoning disputes and other Brooklyn issues.

Mr. Markowitz has often personally cajoled wealthy executives to give tens of thousands of dollars at a time to his nonprofit groups. Some recalled that he was relentless, seemingly unable to take no for an answer.

His nonprofit network is so intertwined with his office that anyone who wants to hold events in Brooklyn Borough Hall, a stately Greek Revival building on Joralemon Street, pays a fee to one of the charities, Best of Brooklyn, not to the city. Those fees in recent years have totaled nearly $200,000, records show.

Markowitz told the paper that the charities, especially the largest (Best of Brooklyn) help cover "shortfalls" in city funding for borough-wide improvements. He won't release a full list of donors. "Most major entities who are thinking of coming to Brooklyn, sometimes as a courtesy, they come in and meet with me," he told the Times. "They know I don’t hold their future in their hands, nor are they depending on me or expecting anything of me financially, but they come in because they want the good wishes or whatever."

Or whatever!

From Brooklyn Office, Mixing Clout and Charity [NYT]