Going, going, gone: city nixes auction of Markowitz and Brooklyn memorabilia

City bureaucrats won’t allow outgoing Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz to auction off the memorabilia he has received during his 12 years in office to benefit a non-for-profit group he founded to send lower income kids to summer camp.

As first reported in the New York Daily News, the city’s Law Department, Department of Citywide Administrative Services, Conflict of Interests Board and the Department of Records have jointly determined that the numerous tee shirts, baseball caps, decorative items and other stuff that Markowitz got as gifts must be retained by the city, and will be sent to storage when the borough president leaves office.

Markowitz had intended to auction off the items to raise money for Camp Brooklyn, which pays to send local kids whose family can’t afford the respite to sleep-away camp. It costs about $700 to send each child to camp.

“I am disappointed that, despite our best efforts, we will not be able to hold an auction to benefit underprivileged youth in our borough,” Markowitz said. “Rather than collecting dust in a warehouse, the sale of autographed memorabilia could have helped send children primarily residing in low-income public housing to summer sleep-away camp. Auction or no auction, our commitment to these kids will continue, and we encourage those able to do so this holiday season to consider a contribution to the Camp Brooklyn Fund.”

                Brooklyn Borough Historian Ron Schweiger – who knows a thing or two about memorabilia and who himself has an extensive collection of Brooklyn artifacts – asked, “What kind of stupid bureaucrat came up with that?  Putting the things in storage so no one sees them, what’s the purpose?”

Had the city allowed the auction to proceed, Schweiger added, “At least the memorabilia could have been spread around and Brooklyn kids could have benefited.”

This is not the first time the city has stiffed its most populous borough when it comes to memorabilia.

Schweiger recalled that, just last year, the city took back the blueprints for Ebbets Field from Brooklyn College, itself a city institution, where they had been on display, despite the fact that, in 1992, the borough’s commissioner of buildings had told his friend who found the blueprints, unarchived, in the sub-basement of the Brooklyn Municipal Building, to take them and find them a permanent home.

Schweiger, who had arranged for the blueprints to be housed at Brooklyn College – which has an archivist on staff in its library and offers courses in archival studies – said that the city had had no idea that the blueprints even existed when his friend had set about searching for them 20-plus years ago, apparently remaining oblivious to their existence until the publicity alerted it.

Nonetheless, when an exhibit featuring the blueprints was widely publicized, Schweiger said, he had gotten a call from a city attorney who had told him, “The college can’t keep city documents.” The blueprints were allowed to remain on display for three months before being repossessed by the city which has them “filed away,” said Schweiger.

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