Brooklyn Boro

OPINION: Why I don’t love Marty Golden, and why you shouldn’t, too

February 15, 2018 By Ross Barkan Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Ross Barkan. Photo courtesy of Ross Barkan
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The following Opinion piece is by writer, journalist and Bay Ridge resident Ross Barkan. Barkan is a Democrat seeking to run against state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) in the November election.

Below is a response to a Brooklyn Eagle opinion article published on Tuesday titled “Why I love Marty Golden, and why you should, too.”

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

A writer by the name of John Alexander published an opinion piece in the Brooklyn Eagle defending the record of his favorite state Senator, Martin “Marty” J. Golden. This piece seemed to be triggered by a recent wave of controversy that has, once again, made the public aware of Golden’s disturbing track record.

Last month, Golden came under fire for claiming the opioid crisis was bothersome to him because opioids aren’t a “ghetto drug” but are affecting “doctors’ kids.” This came just a month after Golden impersonated a police officer, menaced a cyclist, blew through several red lights, and was revealed to be a man who both didn’t like paying speeding tickets and once ran a woman over with his car. This woman would eventually die. Golden quietly settled with the woman’s family for $750,000, a staggering sum of money.

I’m a life-long resident of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, a journalist, a concerned citizen, and Golden’s Democratic opponent. I’m not running because Golden simply belongs to a different party or I have any personal animus toward him. He never treated me badly as a reporter.

I am running because his record is ultimately one of failure. He has been a roadblock to every reform imaginable. He poses as a fighter for this community, but ducks when the going gets tough. He doesn’t even really know how to stand up to Democrats. He is a noxious legislator.

After reading Alexander’s defense of Golden — he copiously quotes from two high-ranking Golden staffers — I felt compelled to respond. It’s telling that Alexander considers Golden’s crowning achievement his battle for a film and television tax credit.

Imagine, spending nearly 20 years in the majority of the upper chamber of the state legislature, and that’s what you put on your plaque.

Tax credits can be nice. They also bleed cities and states of revenue. Golden seems to endorse the idea of New York spending $600 million a year to bail out wealthy film producers who don’t create nearly enough jobs to make up for that lost revenue. The number of people employed in New York in “motion picture and sound recording” (the state’s designation) and “motion picture and video production” (the feds’) actually appears to have decreased in recent years.

Tax breaks for tenants and struggling homeowners would be helpful. But Golden would rather subsidize his millionaire pals at Steiner Studios.

Golden’s deputy chief of staff, John Quaglione, boasted to Alexander that his boss was a champion of the Barclays Center. This is a bizarre brag to make for a few reasons. One, it was a favorite project of Mayor (and former Park Slope City Councilman) Bill de Blasio, who Golden — despite his swaggering Republican brand — can’t really stand up to, or won’t. Two, Barclays has been a failure. It loses money. Promised affordable housing barely materialized. Gentrification has chased longtime residents away.

If Golden wants to own the Barclays Center disaster, all the power to him.

Alexander ticks through funding Golden has brought back for various causes, which is easy enough when you sit in a majority engineered by gerrymandering and a complicit Democratic governor. None of his work, however, has remotely addressed the great crisis of this city: transportation.

Here is where the paper tiger can’t even muster a roar. Alexander points to Golden’s record of restoring weekend service for an express bus that mostly runs along Shore Road. (Hey, I grew up on Shore Road! Woo!)

“Golden is the representative to the MTA Capital Program Review Board, which is responsible for overseeing and approving MTA spending,” Alexander writes. “Last May Golden announced that the MTA board had made X-28 bus weekend service permanent, a proposal he had been advocating for some time.”

That’s it. Forty-four words out of 1,252 were dedicated to transportation.

Forty. Four.

I’ve taken the X-27 and the X-28. I’m glad they exist. I also, like a vast majority of residents in Bay Ridge, struggle daily with the breakdowns on the R train and buses that rarely show up. When I lived in Sheepshead Bay and badly sprained my ankle playing football, I could not ride the B and Q train at the Sheepshead Bay train station because there was no elevator. For almost 20 years, Golden has sat in the majority and on the MTA capital review board and done nothing to make the subways accessible for seniors and people with disabilities. It’s a travesty.

No single politician can be blamed for the full-scale collapse of the transportation system as we know it. Democrats and Republicans share blame. But Golden has been in a unique position to hold the MTA — a failed bureaucracy that does not know how to spend money — accountable for screwing the rest of us.

He never has.

The irony here is he will inevitably attack me as a tax-and-spend liberal because this is the stale playbook he operates from. He doesn’t really have new ideas. What the people of this district will understand quickly is that I am the one calling for fiscal sanity. I am the one livid that we just spent $2.5 billion per mile to add three Q stops on the Upper East Side when transportation agencies around the world are building out whole new lines for far less money.

The MTA is a gaping black hole eating our tax dollars. It is in desperate need of top-to-bottom reform. We must audit the MTA. And the State Senate needs to get off it’s you-know-what and actually hold a hearing dedicated to the sorry state of this transportation behemoth.

Golden just doesn’t care. He’s afraid of standing up to the MTA and the Governor who runs it. He’d rather talk about his summer concerts.

Weak leaders have failed us long enough. Let’s change that in November.



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