“Concerts In the Park” are one of the more benign pieces of political flim-flam that local pols, including the Hon. Martin J. Golden, State Senator (22–SD), like to bestow as if they were items of personal largesse given to the public
“Senator Golden’s Free Summer Concert Schedule” for 2014 is no exception — And it is one of those “same old stories” — But let’s tell it, yet again
>>> SPOILER ALERT <<<
THE “FREE SUMMER CONCERTS” AREN’T REALLY FREE
“The following is a press release from the offices of State Senator Marty Golden: State Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), in partnership with the Southwest Brooklyn Parks Task Force, today has announced the complete lineup of summer concerts set to take stage in our local parks this Summer....” (See “Senator Golden’s Free Summer Concert Schedule 2014” by Sheepshead Bites, 7/8/14 [http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/2014/07/golden-summer-concerts/]). The “Sheepshead Bites article” also says this: “Senator Marty Golden stated, ‘After a long, cold winter, I am sure the residents of Southwest Brooklyn are anxiously awaiting the start of the 2014 summer concerts which I will again be hosting in our local parks. We have a great lineup of entertainment, so mark your calendar, bring a chair, or a blanket, and make your way to our scheduled fourteen shows in our beautiful parks. I guarantee you will enjoy the entertainment that will feature classic rock, the greatest hits of all time, disco, blues and dance.’ ” A virtual identical item appeared on State Senator Golden’s website ( See “SENATOR GOLDEN ANNOUNCES LINEUP OF SUMMER CONCERTS IN THE PARK” posted by Martin J. Golden, 7/2/14 [http://www.nysenate.gov/press-release/senator-golden-announces-lineup-summer-concerts-park]). [Btw, I thought it would be easier to quote from the “Sheepshead Bites article” than from Golden’s own release, because Golden spoke of himself in the third person an quoted himself in the release, making proper quotation punctuation problematic.]
THERE SEEMS TO BE SOME DISCREPANCY, DISAGREEMENT OR MISUNDERSTANDING AS TO WHAT STATE SENATOR GOLDEN HAS TO DO WITH PUTTING ON THESE SHOWS
The shows Golden says that he is “hosting” are actually produced by something called “Blu Buffalo,” although at least one site reports that “All events are produced by SWB Parks Task Force/Blue Buffalo.” (See “Marty Golden's Concerts in the Park” by Kip, 6/3/14, Bay Ridge Journal [http://bayridgejournal.blogspot.com/2014/06/marty-goldens-concerts-in-park.html]). Another site described it thus: “Concerts In The Park 2014 – Sponsored by State Senator Marty Golden.... Produced by Blu Buffalo...”(See “Concerts In The Park 2014” by Bay Ridge – Community Web Site, undated (viewed 7-12-14) [http://bayridge.net/]). And Paula Katinas of the Brooklyn Eagle gave it all a slightly different take — “State Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn), in partnership with the Southwest Brooklyn Parks Task Force, is sponsoring a summer concert series in parks in his senate district....” (See “Parks are alive with the sound of music — Golden presents summer concert series” by Paula Katinas, 7/9/14, Brooklyn Daily Eagle [http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/parks-are-alive-sound-music-2014-07-09-190000]).
By way of contrast, in past years the sponsorship was spread among more local “sponsors.” For example in 2011 the attribution went like this: “The series is hosted by Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge), and co-presented by the Bay Ridge–Bensonhurst Beautification and Preservation Alliance, and the Southwest Brooklyn Parks Task Force....” (See “Sen. Golden’s free summer concerts — a musical boon for parks” by Shavana Abruzzo, 7/25/11, Courier Life/ Brookyn Daily [http://www.brooklyndaily.com/stories/2011/30/br_bb_parkconcert_2011_07_29_bk.html]) [but a little more about that later].
Uh, enough already ! “Presenting” – “Producing” – “Sponsoring” – “Hosting”; isn’t there a simple way to find out who is doing the “paying” ? And almost as important, who is getting paid ?
JUST HOW MUCH DO THESE “FREE CONCERTS” COST ? – AND – WHO IS ACTUALLY PAYING AND GETTING-PAID FOR ALL THIS “FREE” ENTERTAINMENT THAT MARTY GOLDEN IS “SPONSORING,” “PRESENTING,” “PRODUCING” OR “HOSTING” ?
“‘It costs money to put on a free show.... I spend my days — all day long — talking to sponsors, doing production, getting backline, security, permits, food vendors, booking talent....’ [says Sarah Hooper, the co-owner of a tiny company that produced shows in 2010] ” (See “The Real Cost Of A Free Concert” by Jacob Ganz, 8/11/10, The Record - Music News from NPR [http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2010/08/05/129005119/the-real-cost-of-a-free-concert]). It is certainly no easier or cheaper to mount “free entertainment” in 2014 than it was in 2010.
Well, some how or other Marty Golden, Blu Buffalo and the Southwest Brooklyn Parks Task Force are putting on these concerts in the park. BUT WAIT A MINUTE....
In 2012 there was a piece in Bay Ridge Odyssey that observed the following: “This year’s concert series will be organized by the South West Brooklyn Parks Task Force and produced by Blu Buffalo Consultants. Emil “Chip” Cafiero, the prodigious community events organizer, is attached to both, as the head of the SWB Parks Task Force (according to City & State and The Home Reporter) and as a Special Events Coordinator for Blu Buffalo (LinkedIn). Cafiero ...was [ ] named by Chris Bragg of City & State in a January 2012 exposé of the patronage shell game between Senator Golden’s office and the non-profits that have received funds from Golden’s member item or campaign budgets. *** In particular, Bragg noted that Cafiero was a part-time Community Events Coordinator in Golden’s office from 2003 to 2007, “yet he also worked as a paid consultant organizing many Bay Ridge-Bensonhurst Beautification and Preservation Alliance festivals and parades, funded by Golden’s member items....” ... At the time of Bragg’s article, Kip of the Bay Ridge Journal said that “in a style reminiscent of the Tammany era, Cafiero and Golden have cleverly branded practically every family-friendly event in Bay Ridge, a major source of Golden’s political strength,” and the summer concert series is one of the events most closely associated with Golden[ ]...” (See “Tomorrow: Summer concert series returns, first since January exposé on Golden patronage” by Brian Hedden, 7/9/12, Bay Ridge Odessey [http://www.bayridgeodyssey.com/2012/07/tomorrow-summer-concert-series-returns-first-since-january-expose-on-golden-patronage/]).
If anybody can show or tell me what has changed about the “Free Concerts in the Park” since 2012, I’d like to know what it is ?
Earlier today, I spoke with somebody who has been a close observer of the inner workings of Golden’s operations. I asked that person this straight forward question, “Who actually pays for Marty Golden’s Free Concerts in the Park ?” I got this answer back immediately, “You do. Basically, it all comes out of Golden’s member items grants – so it’s taxpayer money.”
Remember how I said that I’d get back to the 2011 funding that included the Bay Ridge–Bensonhurst Beautification and Preservation Alliance, well back around that time, one of the presidents of a local BID complained bitterly that a member grant from Marty Golden that had been pledged to reimburse BID members for money fronted by them for BID expenses was diverted to the Bay Ridge–Bensonhurst Beautification and Preservation Alliance so as to help fund the Summer Concerts in the Park Series. This seemed to have followed a failed attempt to have that same BID contribute directly to the concerts.
So it looks like 2014 and the so-called “Free Concerts” are just part of the same old story. They’re “free” and they’re “hosted,” “sponsored,” “presented” or “produced” by Marty Golden, only because he can spend some of your tax money any way he likes.
If you really want to know how much they actually cost, please call (718) 238-6044. That is Marty Golden's Bay Ridge District Office; I'm sure they will be glad to tell you, if you ask nicely.
Enjoy the concerts.... BUT you see, they aren’t really free at all.