I realize that, given recent events, it's best to move forward rather than pat myself on the back for the blog's anniversary. Therefore, after introducing The Suozzi Effect last week, it's time to delve into another new issue that will influence the Lighthouse Project this year: The Mangano Paradox.
Ed Mangano has been in office for a little less than a month, though we do have a resolution to the countdown I began on New Year's Day. Mangano signaled to News 12 Interactive that he wants to see the Lighthouse Project moved forward, and a comment was made on Mangano's Facebook fan page that assured the Lighthouse Project was "a top priority for [the Mangano Administration]" and "something [the administration] is working diligently on."
We begin to see the paradox taking shape, because Ed Mangano has to take that difficult leap from rhetoric to results, and there are no cut-and-dry solutions.
It's important to note that I'm not expressing doubt that Ed Mangano truly supports the Lighthouse Project. He told me so during our interview in October, he has said the same thing to every outlet that has asked, and unless he does something to signal a seismic shift in his position, I have no reason to believe Ed Mangano is not telling the truth. However, Mangano must also act to move the Lighthouse Project forward, as best he can, within the known constraints and issues:
The Town of Hempstead currently controls the entire process because they have the power to zone the land.
Ed Mangano has signaled a reluctance to involve himself too deeply before the project is sent back to Nassau County.
The Town of Hempstead, historically, uses lack of attention to its advantage, and a lack of attention from the County Executive could give them cover to stall the project ad infinitum.
However, Tom Suozzi, who seemed to take every opportunity to beat any Republican in his sight with the Lighthouse Project for over 2 years, did not substantively move the needle, either.
Legis. Dave Denenberg told me at the environmental scoping hearings that he expected 12-18 months for the environmental review. We are now in Month 20, with no sign of improvement and no appreciable progress toward a Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (FGEIS).
Trouble with the proposed development at the former Grumman property in Mangano's hometown of Bethpage has led some to question whether Mr. Mangano's credentials in land development are as solid as he claimed.
Those claiming Ed Mangano is a traditional machine politician may be over-simplifying things. Mangano is the first Republican County Executive in literally decades to not be promoted from within the Hempstead machine, a group that has given us Al D'Amato, Tom Gulotta, Joe Mondello, and others. To suggest he would automatically be beholden to these interests may not be accurate, and it gives the new County Executive a golden opportunity to prove his independence.
This is The Mangano Paradox: Ed Mangano now owns the Lighthouse issue in Nassau County. He needs to take action within his power and his role in the process to move this forward. However, both of the obvious actions (give the Town of Hempstead space and cajole the Town to move forward) could lead to failure or a near infinite stall.
Ed Mangano needs to tread a very fine line, but I believe there is a way for him to do that and effect positive change in the Lighthouse saga.
Currently, the Town and Lighthouse are barely speaking and appear to be far apart on negotiations for an amended project scope (10% reductions according to the Lighthouse vs. 35% heard from the Town of Hempstead). Kate Murray has become brazen, attempting to scare residents with density figures that are far from reality. It's clear that a white knight is needed to make each side renounce the trenches.
Ed Mangano can be that white knight.
He can use his demonstrated experience in land development and bipartisan negotiation to bring both sides back to the table.
I think the best possible outcome would be a summit and public press conference in Mineola in which the County Executive would re-affirm the Lighthouse as a priority and help to jump-start the stalled negotiations. The first bits to come out of this could be baby steps such as finally publishing a process to shepherd the Lighthouse Project to a final up-or-down vote on re-zoning.
Ed Mangano has a tremendous opportunity, and I hope he seizes it.