The picture on the right may look like Borough President Markowitz accepting a large ceremonial check for $500 for his “Camp Brooklyn” charity — but it really a picture of him stabbing me in the back!
Seconds after this picture was taken on Tuesday, Markowitz made the outlandish, outrageous and just plain out-there claim that the $500 I raised in the now-legendary eBay auction of my ankle cast was the result of fraud.
As we reported last week (exclusively, I might add!), Councilman Bill DeBlasio won the cast after a frenzied bidding war with fellow Councilman Simcha Felder. But Markowitz questioned our report. And in doing so, he has set back Markowitz-Kuntzman relations at least four years.
“Jamie [Markowitz, the Beep’s wife] was watching that ‘auction’ the entire way and she said all the bidders were you!” Markowitz said. “You kept bidding to drive up the price!”
Markowitz said his wife — “an eBay expert,” he said — made the conclusion based on the fact that many of the bidders in my historic auction were first-time auction participants.
“She said it’s clear that you had set up fake bidding names. You’re ‘billdeblasio’ and ‘simchafelder.’”
Then he repeated his libel: “You did it to drive up the price!”
Now, of course Borough President Markowitz and I have had some high-profile differences of opinions over the years — Atlantic Yards, Hillary Clinton and the cheesecake at Junior’s — but never has he had the temerity to accuse me of a) outright fraud and b) being the kind of person who uses the word “temerity” in a column (though, clearly, I am).
But I’m a journalist first and a human being second (actually, make that sixth), so I felt honor-bound to check out the substance of Markowitz’s allegation. First, I grilled myself on the subject.
The Brooklyn Ankle: Kuntzman, did you create fake identities on eBay and then bid on your own cast?
Kuntzman: What are you, on crack?
TBA: Just answer the question.
Kuntzman: What was the question again? I’m on crack.
TBA: Did you create fake identities on eBay and then bid on your own cast?
Kuntzman: No. Are you a wacko?
Next, I asked DeBlasio’s office if “billdeblasio” was actually Bill DeBlasio.
“Of course it was him,” said the councilman’s spokeswoman, Jean Weinberg. “Not only did he absolutely bid — and win — but the cast has been put on a pedestal in a prominent place in our office.”
Then I called Felder, who confirmed that he was “simchafelder” (I mean, come on … who else would be “simchafelder”).
After, I told him.
“I remain proud that we participated in this charity auction and will certainly participate next time,” he said.
Next time? Was the councilman wishing me another broken ankle? That’s worse than a borough president accusing me of shenanigans!
But, again, given my commitment to good journalism, I asked Markowitz one more time whether he was really accusing me of fraud. Finally, at the end of this trying day, I received this e-mail from Markowitz:
“OK. OK. Bill bought your cast!!!!!!!!” he wrote.
Then he dropped this bombshell:
“PS: We bid for it, too!”
Despite the controversy, The Brooklyn Paper is still urging readers to help send a child to camp this summer. For information on Markowitz’s “Camp Brooklyn” charity, go to www.brooklyn-usa.org/Pages/camp%20brooklyn.htm.