Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Take on the Politics

Many people have become concerned by the Town of Hempstead's conduct over the last few months. Therefore, I believe this post is necessary to share my point of view on the subject, in the form of bullets:
  • I do not believe in demonizing people.
  • I do not want to engender blind hatred of any elected officials in Nassau County or the Town of Hempstead over the Lighthouse Project.
  • I do not believe in pre-emptively criticizing a politician for something he or she might do.
  • I don't think making comments on somebody's appearance adds anything to the discourse.
  • I don't want to make the Lighthouse a partisan political issue if it does not have to be.
  • Despite not wanting this to become a partisan issue, I realize this is an election year for both the Town of Hempstead and the County as a whole, and this will add a new dimension to many old storylines.
I prefer to shift the focus to accountability and holding politicians responsible for their words or actions. When the situation calls for it, I will be the first in line to throw a punch. For example, recent actions by the Town of Hempstead have proven especially troubling. Sadly, I was scooped by Chris Botta on a few disturbing trends, but I will talk about them here nonetheless.

Chris shared the story of a woman named Maria, mother of three grown children living on Long Island. She wrote a letter to the Town of Hempstead signaling her support for the Lighthouse project, emphasizing the jobs, tax revenues, and the opportunity to bring Long Island into the future of suburban development. Maria was disappointed to receive a form letter back from the Town of Hempstead dismissing her as merely an Islanders fan, when the word "Islanders" never once appeared in her letter.

This is a disturbing trend among leaders of the Town of Hempstead. I've spoken with Joe Ra, the Town attorney (and, ironically enough, an Islanders season ticket holder) about the Lighthouse, and he is always quick to group supporters together as merely "Islanders fans" and maintain he's looking out for "more than just 15,000 fans at the Coliseum." This is dangerously myopic. It is not right to say that supporters of a project with so many benefits to the community must be hockey fans. However, with that being said, what's so wrong with supporting the project as an Islanders fan? I support the project because I think it's exactly what Long Island needs, and most supporters to whom I've spoken share that belief. However, there may be citizens in the Town of Hempstead who support the Lighthouse solely because of the Islanders issue. Do those people's opinions not matter? Does their vote count less than mine? Do they deserve to be heard any less? I've always said this is about far more than hockey, but everyone has a right to their individual reasons.

I thought this was bad enough, but then things got much worse. Another reader who calls himself "Sir William" posted on Mr. Botta's site that he received the same form letter when he wrote a letter against the Lighthouse Project. A perplexed Sir William called and demanded to speak to Joe Ra, who informed him that all Lighthouse letters are sorted into a single bin and form responses are generated without ever reading them.

If true, this is an egregious breach of the Town of Hempstead's responsibility to the public. This is the largest building project since Levittown, and it has attracted tens of thousands of citizens who finally see a way forward for our island. As a voter, I am insulted that the elected leaders of the Town of Hempstead don't see a reason to read letters written by the voters to whom they are supposed to answer. I want to hear the Town explain its reasoning behind this decision and why officials seem to think the will of the voters does not matter. Please show us you care, and always remember your first responsibility is to the voters who elected you.

Please share your thoughts in the comments. As always, don't forget to sign the petition and pass it on. I welcome your feedback at

1 comment:

  1. Has Newsday written and/or investigated anything about:
    1) The ToH just sending form letters and admitting to not reading letters from people?
    2) "Follow the money" is what Deep Throat said back in the early 70's. Is there a money trail that might lead us to believe that Roosevelt Field Mall and/or other area shopping centers might be afriad of the competition? That didn't come out well, but I think you know what I mean; Roosevelt Field Mall contributing to certain elected officials...