Pro Bono Barrister
By Charles F. Otey, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The main reason Borough President Elect Eric Adams faced no serious political opposition in the recent election is that he brings an impressive record to this very vital position held the past 12 years by one of our most iconic Brooklynites, Marty Markowitz.
We have no doubt Eric Adams will be one of the finest to occupy Borough Hall. His qualifications are unquestioned and we look forward to four or more years of B.P. Adams in charge here.
Yet, maybe due to nostalgia or just a refusal to let go, there are many who don’t really want the effervescent Marty Markowitz to step off the public stage.. His happy, booming style has typified Brooklyn during the period of amazing growth we’ve enjoyed during the past 12 years and helped us carry on through the Depression of ’08.
He can’t claim credit for the current renaissance, but he had the good fortune to be in office at the right time, and his positive attitude most certainly increased and articulated the willingness of leaders in business to invest in Brooklyn.
Marty’s Assumed Powers Went Beyond The Title
It’s known that the office of borough president no longer holds the day to day governing power it once did before the City Charter was redrawn.
But Markowitz acted as though he could speak for Brooklyn, and he did. His story is somewhat akin to that of the hummingbird, which can fly even though it lacks the aerodynamic capacity to do so.
By being engaged and relentless in his pursuit of what was the best for Brooklyn, Markowitz made our Borough Hall soar while those in the other four boroughs remained grounded in comparison.
Among those sharing this belief are Public Advocate-elect Letitia James and Councilman David Greenfield. That’s why they have called on Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to designate Markowitz as ambassador for New York by appointing him commissioner of the Mayor’s Office For International Affairs.
"The appointment of Mr. Markowitz to this position and its renaming would be fitting in light of his role as borough president over the past 12 years during which time he has served as one of the biggest boosters and supporters of New York,” the leading Democrats declared this week.
This particular office was created in 1962 by then-Mayor Robert Wagner. Mayor Bloomberg renamed it last year. Originally, UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson championed it as a "liaison between the diplomatic community and local residents, business and government." As modified by Mayor Bloomberg, this post appears to be a demanding and full-time job.
Originally Post Was Sort Of "Official Greeter"
The position was regarded as a diplomatic plum, with the "ambassador" receiving only $1 per year. It quickly became the goal of wealthy and politically well-connected.
Unofficially, the position was described as that of a “public greeter,” a person who would indeed be the mayor's ambassador in many situations involving noted visitors both foreign and domestic.
Who holds the position now? Good question.
It would be a feather in the borough’s cap to have this quintessential Brooklynite become the official greeter or ambassador for this city, which has been painfully Manhattan-centric since its creation in 1899.
"It would be a great loss to the City of New York, specifically the Borough of Brooklyn which loves Marty Markowitz, to lose his influence and expertise in the city sector,” said James and Greenfield in their joint statement.
Indeed he has become a citywide figure, his booming voice a symbol of the city's intrepid spirit, a guy who gave us hope and humor through a depression and a devastating hurricane. The ball is now in the court of his neighbor Bill de Blasio.