Brooklyn’s top boss sure knows how to make a grand— and noisy —entrance.
Borough President Marty Markowitz’s SUV recently did its best impression of an emergency vehicle, flashing lights, blaring a siren and zipping through red lights on Flatbush Avenue on its way to a press conference convened by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to address the crisis in Haiti.
Markowitz’s spokesperson Mark Zustovich defended the use of sirens and lights, which he said were authorized by the city of New York. “In this instance, he was on his way to an event with the Mayor and Governor addressing the Haitian crisis and calling for emergency aid to those suffering in Haiti as well as their families here, the majority of whom live in Brooklyn,” Zustovich said.
According to the New York Post, the beep played only a minor role at the Jan. 13 event, held inside the Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Crown Heights, and only spoke for a few minutes.
The Post reported that back in 2004, Markowitz’s car was spied blowing through a red light at Third Avenue and Sackett Street — also on its way to a speech. The paper said that the police, mayor and state Department of Motor Vehicles did not authorize the use of lights and sirens. State law allows sirens for emergency vehicles only, but scofflaws are caught only if the law is enforced.
Asked about the matter at a Jan. 13 press conference, Bloomberg said he didn’t see Markowitz drive, so he had little to add to the discussion. “I don’t know what the situation was — if he said it I didn’t hear it so you’ll have to talk to him.”
Markowitz’s ride doesn’t exactly offer much anonymity: his SUV bears the license plate: “BKLYN BP.” His car just so happened to race past a van filled with City Hall reporters headed to the same press conference.
A former staffer for a local elected official said Markowitz is hardly alone in this type of vehicular misbehavior.
“I do know that lots of these guys use ex-cops as their drivers and violate the traffic laws with impunity,” said the person, who asked to remain anonymous. “I bet that some of those denying the use of sirens have used them.”
The person added, “Marty probably always wanted to be a cop or fireman.”