Brooklynites Pass the Hat But Forgo the Ballot Box, New Report Shows
BROOKLYN — Money talks and BS walks in the county of Kings, where residents are much more likely to open their wallets for political candidates and charities than go to the polls, a new report shows.
"Although the percentage of Brooklynites voting in presidential elections is increasing, we are still well below the national averages for the last three elections," the Brooklyn Community Foundation said in its Civic Engagement Report.
The analysis draws on a wealth of public data to provide a snapshot of the borough that goes "beyond the sentimental reflections of old Brooklyn and the hipster branding of new Brooklyn."
According to the report, only half of the borough’s registered voters cast a ballot in the last presidential election, compared to more than 60 percent nationally. Yet residents gave more than $1 billion to charity that year and contributed millions toward local city elections in 2009.
Brooklynites gave away a larger percentage of their income than residents in any other borough, but there were major differences among giving. Residents of some of the borough’s poorest neighborhoods gave the most to charity, while those from the wealthiest areas chose to line the coffers of local politicians, according to the report.
Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope made it rain for electeds but were tight-fisted when it came to charity, while Borough Park and Midwood/Flatbush lavished their support on the less fortunate and let the pols fend for themselves, giving the largest per capita percentage and the largest dollar amount, respectively. (An unsurprising civic trend, since the Orthodox Jews who populate those neighborhoods are religiously mandated to donate 10 percent of their income to charity).
Bed-Stuy had the most committed voters, with a nearly 70 percent turnout in the last presidential election. Flatbush and Red Hook were close behind in 2008, while virtually the same percentage of voters in Bensonhurst and Bath Beach couldn't be bothered.
Overall, Sunset Park gave little and voted less. Residents there also made among the fewest calls for service, while Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents ranked among the boroughs biggest complainers, with nearly 30,000 calls to 311, just slightly less than in Bed-Stuy and East New York.
Other Brooklyn residents aren’t shy about letting their elected officials know what's up. More than 40 percent of Brooklynites have called an elected official directly to give a piece of their mind — most often about real estate. They're New Yorkers, after all.