Saturday, May 26, 2007

Cruising: News of Markowitz's Free Queen Mary Trip Spreads

Anything wrong with Borough President Marty Markowitz's free trip on the Queen Mary? Is it okay for a public official to take a gift from a company that does business with the city and whose cause said official has promoted? One would suppose that it depends on how one chooses to interpret ethics rules. The city's ethics watchdogs okayed the trip, but to some it might present a somewhat bad smell, say, like milk just as its about to turn, but not when it's so far gone that you open the container and want to barf all over the kitchen floor.

In any case, the story is interesting enough that it made the Times:
On Thursday, Mr. Markowitz’s own ship came in. He arrived in Brooklyn on the Queen Mary 2 after a free six-day cruise from Southampton, England. Mr. Markowitz was quick to point out that he sailed not just as a passenger, but also as the borough’s official ambassador. Between breakfasts of petit filet mignon and dinners of lobster flambé with cognac and truffles, harp recitals and black-tie soirees, the mostly European passengers were treated to an hourlong talk from Mr. Markowitz on the wonders of Brooklyn. More than 450 people attended it, he said.

“I know it sounds crazy to us,” Mr. Markowitz said yesterday, “but there are many people who don’t know Brooklyn and are curious to know about us.”

Though ethics watchdogs said it was hard to accept a free cruise from a company that does business with the city without creating the appearance of a conflict of interest, Mr. Markowitz’s voyage was approved by the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board.

The board ruled that the gift was legitimate, given that “attracting regional, domestic and international tourism to Brooklyn is a major priority in your administration and that this trip will advance this priority.” Mr. Markowitz’s passage was reported yesterday in The New York Post.

Mr. Markowitz said that he certainly felt he earned his berth in an ocean-facing room on an upper deck, worth somewhere north of $1,500.

“Had they invited me to lounge around in my shorts and to play no role at all, that’s one story,” Mr. Markowitz said. “But I was invited for a specific purpose.”
Well, now we know why Mr. Markowitz had no comment when news broke of the purge of Community Board 6 that he, City Council Member David Yassky and City Council Member Bill de Blasio conducted over Atlantic Yards and, quite possibly, Gowanus rezoning.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ethics committee says yes. But who is a better judge -- an ethics committee, or a blogger?

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's why I avoid milk altogether!

8:59 PM  

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