UPDATE: I heard from The Sign Man. He and his family spent the week making the HUNDREDS of signs seen at Saturday's game, and the team staff helped them out by giving them to fans. I apologize for the implication, and congratulate them on such a herculean effort. Their hands must hurt, but it's for a noble cause.
Yesterday was a significant day, as Charles Wang's October 3 deadline passed and he declared the New York Islanders to be free agents. Many things occurred yesterday, including Kristen McElroy re-emerging to stump with a bullhorn outside Nassau Coliseum, Tom Suozzi dropping the puck flanked by Mr. Wang, Mike Bossy, and Bryan Trottier, Charles Wang and the Town of Hempstead trading barbs in the press.....and, oh, yea, they played a hockey game.
For me, hockey was overshadowed by Charles Wang's announcement just minutes before the drop of the puck that he would explore all options (again, as is his right). However, I was amazed (though not exactly surprised) by the sharp tone Mr. Wang took in his statements, in light of Friday's overture from Kate Murray to sit down at the table and discuss "amending" the Lighthouse Project to something with which the Town Board could feel more comfortable. Mr. Wang criticized Supervisor Kate Murray for leaking the negotiation to the press (as if she would ever keep it secret), and he declared himself sick of the Supervisor's "game-playing."
Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right....
(With apologies to Stealer's Wheel)
(I've removed this paragraph because we now know the signs seen on Saturday were homemade and truly a grass-roots effort. I regret implying anything else)
However, the Lighthouse has not been 100% clean in its conduct either. While it has always been something Long Island needed, and I supported it as such from the beginning, it was also billed as the only way to keep the Islanders on Long Island. Since the local government was not willing to spend money to fund a new arena, especially since the average public contribution for a sports arena is 65%, the only way a businessperson would finance the arena would be to make the money back by developing the land. Lighthouse officials have been talking for months about eventual negotiation and compromise, with many of the same people now saying there can be no negotiations repeatedly assuring concerned citizens that the final project would not look exactly like the renderings. That makes the recent decision to not negotiate a strange one, and people should rightly ask what brought about this change of heart.
I've spoken many times in this blog about Can-Do thinking vs. Can't-Do thinking, that inherent dichotomy between discussing obstacles as dead-ends and discussing obstacles in the spirit of solving them. While there have been flashes, neither side has shown Can-Do thinking toward the other. At this point, the Lighthouse and the County are criticizing the Town for throwing up roadblocks, and the Town is insisting just as fervently that the blame lies solely at the feet of Tom Suozzi and Charles Wang.
At the end of the day, what's done is done, and re-litigating every misstep would take more time and energy than any of us are willing to spend. Continuing to point fingers and slowly devolve this scenario into a mindless tit-for-tat will distract from the real work that has to be done, and to be honest, it would make me wonder whether any side is negotiating from the perspective of wanting something done.
I've said it many times before: Long Island loses if this devolves solely into partisan bickering and posturing, and we can't allow it to happen.
Stuck in the Middle With You
We should demand more of our elected representatives, and maintain accountability for the people that want to invest billions of dollars into Long Island at a time when it sorely needs both investment and a new identity.
I believe we need to raise our voices as one and make it clear that this is too important for the future of Long Island to die at the hand of political gamesmanship. No more roadblocks, no more excuses....Just Zone It and Just Build It!
this....or this.....or this. In the same vein, Nassau County could have gotten this done quicker, and I am shocked the Lighthouse would come this far and spend so much money without having a clear idea where the Town stood on the matter, or that they would now go out of their way to spin every move from the Town as a negative.
However, none of this matters. We can sit here and re-hash all the mistakes each side has made until Kate Murray's goats have eaten every blade of grass in the Town of Hempstead, but it does nothing to get us toward the true goal. I believe some people have forgotten or minimized the true bottom line by getting caught up in every small movement during the negotiation (I have also been guilty of this at times). At the end of the day, the Lighthouse Project is the right one for Long Island. I don't care how this current mess started nearly as much as I care about which side is going to bring the project to its proper resolution.
Who's it going to be?
Who is going to stand up and make sure that the sides come to a mutually-beneficial solution?
Long Island needs the Lighthouse like it has not needed something in decades. As the County Executive said himself, shame on anyone who would prevent it from happening.
Expect a couple of interesting interviews this week that will help shed a light on a few different aspects of this project.
I've noticed readership of this blog increasing, with a more engaged reader base. Thank you from the bottom of my heart; this blog is for all of you, and you give me the strength to keep writing.