Monday, October 26, 2009
Posted by Nick at Monday, October 26, 2009
I apologize for being MIA for the past week, but I was working on a few things that did not end up panning out, and I don't like to write when I have nothing to say.
Anyway, let's get right into it, because Election Day is only 8 days away, and the Lighthouse is shaping up to be an interesting issue. The most important thing we can do is vote and continue to spread the word to make sure the pro-Lighthouse contingent, which is the vast majority, has a large impact on Election Day.
There are a few reasons that I believe voting and educating citizens about the Lighthouse are vital activities:
Need for Education
The Lighthouse Project is, as I've said so many times, a truly revolutionary proposal, and the largest building project Long Island has seen since Levittown. There has been heavy coverage in the blogosphere, and the mainstream media has contributed in many ways as well. Turnout has been heavy at public hearings, and attendees have been overwhelmingly in favor of the project. My theory was proven correct when Newsday released a scientific poll showing that supporters of the Lighthouse Project outnumbered opponents by a margin of 2-1.
However, there is a problem lurking right in plain sight: almost a quarter of respondents to the poll either had no opinion or were not sure.
This is surprising to me, as I'm sure it is for all of you who have followed the Lighthouse Project so closely. However, it's clear that many residents either do not know enough about the project, or, like those one commenter on this site encountered at the August hearing who were upset about eminent domain that will not be exercised, residents are not sufficiently informed. All of us need to do our best to make sure that people are making an educated decision on whether to support the Lighthouse.
Lighthouse as Island-wide Issue
Many people, both on this blog and in other places, have expressed frustration at the approval process for the Lighthouse Project. These citizens rightly recognize that the Lighthouse is an issue that will shape Long Island's destiny for decades to come, whether or not it is approved, and that its impact reaches far beyond the borders of the Town of Hempstead. However, since the Town of Hempstead solely controls zoning, they are more inclined to listen to residents of the Town and dismiss those from outside. In fact, it has previously been a Town of Hempstead talking point (parroted by some mainstream media) that the only voters who support the Lighthouse don't live in the Town itself. These citizens are rightly concerned that they do not have a voice in the process.
However, you do have a voice, and there are a few potential ways to exercise that voice. First of all, you can still speak to local politicians about the broader questions surrounding the Lighthouse. This is not just about a land development in Uniondale; this is about how we want to be suburbia in the 21st Century. This is about whether Long Island wants to remain stuck in the long-gone suburban ideal of nothing but single-family homes surrounded by white picket fences with all the jobs in the city, or whether it wants to adapt to a clearly-changing world. Even if you do not live in the Town of Hempstead, you can still seek positions from your elected officials (and candidates) on this crucial issue.
In the same vein, residents can still vote based on the Lighthouse Project if they do not live in the Town of Hempstead, and they can speak to Town of Hempstead residents in order to make sure those people make an educated decision on whether to support the project.
We Get What We Deserve
It seems too easily forgotten in this day and age, but the people possess ultimate political power in the United States. It is not correct or useful to complain about politicians and their actions if we do not exercise our duty to hold them accountable. If we continue to not educate ourselves on local issues, and if we continue to blindly elect and re-elect the same politicians, we will have a government that does not represent our interests....and we will deserve it.
Local elections usually experience the lowest turnout, and that allows for a small group of people to dictate the representation for the rest of us. We must not allow this to happen this year. Become informed on your local candidates, force them to answer questions about the Lighthouse Project, and hold them accountable at the ballot box.
Our future is too important - let's take a stand next Tuesday.
Expect a few interesting discussions over the next week, as well as discussions on transportation, new media, and a post that throws cold water on those who assume Queens is a slam-dunk move for the Islanders.