Markowitz, who during his tenure as borough president has been referenced in the media more often as a “cheerleader” and a Bruce Ratner cohort than as a politician for the needs of the residents of Brooklyn, was able to capitalize on his cheerleading reputation to land the new job.
The fact that Markowitz was able to secure such a high profile, high paying job is as much a question as to why this position was created in the first place. In November of 2013 as Markowitz’s tenure as borough president was winding down, Letitia James and David Greenfield called upon Mayor elect Bill DeBlasio to appoint Markowitz “Ambassador to the city”.
Public Advocate-elect James said at the time, “There are few more dedicated public officials than Mr. Markowitz, and it would be fitting for him to represent the City of New York as Ambassador”.
But the position of “Ambassador of NYC” did not technically exist — at least, not in name. The job would actually take on the responsibilities of “Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs”. In 1962 then Mayor Robert Wagner created the “NYC Commissioner for the United Nations”.
The James and Greenfield public suggestion for Markowitz ‘s life after Brooklyn Borough President started a chain of events that began the rumor mill swirling. The Daily News reported shortly thereafter that there was a “backroom” deal in the works that included getting Kings County Democratic chairman Frank Seddio at the urging of Mayor DeBlasio, to switch his support from Dan Garodnick for Council Speaker and instead throw his weight behind progressive Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito’s Speaker nomination, a post she eventually won.
The Daily News had reported that 3 separate sources told them that various patronage jobs were on the line in the DeBlasio administration if Seddio would stand behind Mark-Viverito. DeBlasio and Seddio naturally declined any backroom dealings, but the results several months later begs the question of why is this new position for the 69 year old Markowitz, which is partially funded by the taxpayers, needed?
NYC & Co. has a budget of $30 million, 60% comes from sponsorship and members while the other 40% ($12 million) comes from New York City. The Brooklyn chamber of commerce is launching a webpage ExploreBK.com in the coming months to grow Brooklyn’s brand to a global tourism trade and defenders of the Markowitz hire claim that he is being brought on board to do the same for all the outer boroughs.
NYC & Co were formed in 2005 as an autonomous non-profit company to provide marketing and tourism services for the city. NYC & Co. has a private contract with the city to promote tourism for all the boroughs. Manhattan is of course the crown jewel when it comes to foreigners paying avist to the “Big Apple” but there is a growing need to expand commerce in the other four.See De Blasio’s Ratings Sink, page