Monday, October 19, 2009
Posted by Nick at Monday, October 19, 2009
It has been a busy few days for me, but we are moving into a new segment of the Lighthouse process, and we need to talk about two major events: State Sen. Dean Skelos' public endorsement of the Lighthouse Project and the news that Kate Murray and Charles Wang have agreed to meet in order to discuss "scaling down" the Lighthouse Project.
Away we go...
Skelos Stands Up
I have been deeply critical of Sen. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), who, as Minority Leader in the State Senate, engineered the coup d'etat that threw the New York State government into turmoil for most of the summer months. It was a bald power grab that deliberately distracted these politicians from doing the people's business, and while it is over that action is still not forgivable.
Despite this, Sen. Skelos took an action that could have a profound impact on the Lighthouse process when he publicly endorsed the vision put forth by Charles Wang and Scott Rechler. Skelos, the highest-ranking elected Republican in New York State, also became the most prominent Republican to endorse the project.
This is significant because the upcoming election has increased the very real risk of the Lighthouse Project calcifying into a purely partisan issue, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed. It has not always been like this; in fact, many prominent Republicans in the State Assembly sponsored an April 4 roundtable at Nassau Coliseum discussing the dire need for the type of private investment and services (namely the convention center) the Lighthouse will provide. However, recently (despite the relative silence from Legis. Ed Mangano, Tom Suozzi's opponent in the County Executive election), many Republicans, such as Joe "Blow it Out Your Dufflebag" Mondello, Legis. Peter Schmitt, have begun to criticize the Lighthouse or simply refuse to endorse it. With Tom Suozzi and other Democrats strongly pushing the Lighthouse as part of their re-election bids this year, it would be very easy for the Lighthouse to simply slide into the partisan abyss.
Sen. Skelos' endorsement could have more symbolic impact than anything, given the climate. His support could clear the way for other Republicans who were either on the fence or not willing to speak in public to now publicly speak in favor of the Lighthouse without fear of reprisal from the party establishment.
We should continue to watch this situation - I will be interested to see how it plays out.
Kate Makes Another Offer....In Public
agreeing to meet in order to discuss amending the size and scope of the Lighthouse Project.
I do not want to belabor many points I have already made. You all know that I believe the two sides should be talking, and you also know that I know Kate Murray is not a hero for suddenly and "generously" offering to do what a Town Supervisor should be responsible for doing from Day 1. You also know my theory that the Town of Hempstead will not approve the Lighthouse Project without being able to take credit for something, especially considering the PR nightmare this has largely been for the Town.
Therefore, this is not going to be a usual exhortation. I will, instead, offer some advice directly to the Town of Hempstead:
Supervisor, it is well-known that the Town of Hempstead is not known as proficient in handling large developments. I can look no further than the Town's clumsy and, at times, arrogant handling of the Bellmore Army Base in my own backyard for proof of that. The Lighthouse has reached its current place in part because the Town and Mr. Wang are used to standing their ground and getting what they want.
You cannot continue this cat-and-mouse game by talking vaguely about "scaling the Lighthouse down" without any substantive proposal of your own. You must also realize that, in order to get this done, you should make a proposal that is larger than your original instinct.
When you sit down with Charles Wang, do not force him to bid against himself. Make a substantive proposal to make sure you have someplace to go - and do it in the interest of the people you are supposed to serve.
The time for grandstanding should be over (though with the Election only 2 weeks away, that might be too much to ask), and the time for substantive action for the good of Long Island has long passed. Kate Murray needs to get off her pedestal and, for the first time in this process, show a true, overt commitment to getting something done.
The people want this.
A large cadre of politicians want this.
Get it done.
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