Borough President Markowitz earned our “Press Release of the Week” award with an amazing bit of political legerdemain.
The Beep, a strong supporter of the Atlantic Yards project, put out an angry press release on Wednesday railing against a Metropolitan Transportation Authority plan to cover an expected $300-million deficit next year by hiking subway fares by 10 percent.
Here’s where the fancy footwork comes in.
Markowitz’s beloved Atlantic Yards project is largely being built over land that the MTA sold to Ratner in 2005 for a mere $100 million — $114 million less than the MTA’s own appraisal said the development rights were worth. In a truly open market, those rights might have even gone for more.
Not only did Markowitz not object to the MTA’s fare-busting giveaway, he loudly supported it, calling it “good for Brooklyn.”
Good for Brooklyn? Can he still really believe that? Markowitz’s blind spot to Atlantic Yards has allowed him to blissfully ignore the fact that the project has already caused Con Ed to ask for a large rate hike, already encouraged the Department of Transportation to consider wholesale changes to local traffic patterns through surrounding communities, already soaked up $100 million more in direct city subsidies than originally budgeted — and will cost $1 billion or more in direct and indirect subsidies. Atlantic Yards clearly shares the blame for the MTA’s fiscal woes.
Of course, Markowitz’s award-winning press release failed to see the connection.
“Frankly, as the City of New York considers strategies to reduce congestion, this is no time for the MTA to be talking about raising transit fares,” said Markowitz. “Our public policy must be coordinated. Fare increases discourage transit ridership, and we must oppose them at this time.”
Markowitz’s call for a “coordinated” approach is a joke. It was a “coordinated,” back-room approach among city, state and borough officials that created Atlantic Yards in the first place — and the “congestion” and threat of a fare hike that Markowitz now decries is a direct result of these efforts.
If Borough President Markowitz can’t see the connection, voters packed into increasingly crowded, increasingly costly subways and busses should send him a clear message if he considers a run for higher office.