Friday, March 13, 2009

Kate Murray and Demonization

Hempstead Supevisor Kate Murray has been in the Lighthouse-related news recently, for all the wrong reasons. While she has kept her promise to fast-track the environmental review, her lack of attendance at key meetings and her constant pushing of the discredited idea to renovate the Coliseum as a stand-alone has caused obvious worry among Lighthouse supporters. This morning, Islanders Point Blank posted a brief interview with Legis. David Denenberg (D) of Nassau County, in which my local legislator hit the Town of Hempstead hard for what he called "short-sightedness." It also mentions an intriguing idea - Mr. Denenberg wants to hold a rally to support the Lighthouse in conjunction with the building trades unions. More on the idea, tentatively called Save the Island(ers) (Blogger's Note: What clever use of parentheses! Where have I seen that before?), when it becomes available.

It is tempting to become upset and demonize Kate Murray over her behavior. My favorite business guru, Seth Godin, pointed out in his blog today that it is very hard to demonize a person who engages and interacts with you. Mr. Godin, for my money one of the smartest people on Earth, is completely correct. Kate Murray has created most of her Lighthouse issues by refusing to speak about the benefits of the project and declining to show up to any key events or meetings on the project. However, it does not benefit us, as Lighthouse supporters, to make this solely about Kate Murray. Our friend, 19 Isle in NJ 22, had this excellent comment over on that Point Blank thread:

...(S)upport of the Light House should be for all the right reasons… jobs, improvements, tax revenue generator, benefit to Nassau and the TOH … demonizing Kate Murray is shooting yourself in the foot… if she feels that supporters of the LHP are her opposition … then she’s likely to oppose it for political reasons. Giving her positive encouragement and re-educating her and convining her that her greenlighting of the project empowers her with your support then it only helps. Voting her out in November doesn’t help if the deal is dead in October.
- 19 Isle in NJ 22

I could not have said it better myself. We will win support for the Lighthouse by touting jobs, benefits, and tax revenues, not by threatening Kate Murray's political career. Though her behavior, the Supervisor is inviting dialogue, and it is not in our best interests to act rashly and provide justifications for derailing the project.

To Kate Murray

Supervisor, thank you again for following through on your commitment to fast-track the project. That showed real leadership, and you deserve all the praise you have gotten for it. However, please do not play politics with an issue that is so vital for us and for our Island. We have a project that could dramatically improve things in the Town of Hempstead for generations to come, and people will remember that your leadership helped that become reality. Please do not stand for the past when suburban life has so clearly changed all around us.

On the other hand, Supervisor, it is time for you to own your silence. Voters do not want to hear buck-passing statements or misdirections in relation to the Lighthouse Project. They want to hear their elected leader discuss the benefits of the project while reminding us of the need to do this right and come to a mutually-beneficial solution for the Town of Hempstead, Nassau County, the Lighthouse group, and citizens.

Voters are not interested in political gamesmanship. We only want to hear one thing:

Yes, or No?

Bottom Line

The Supervisor's behavior and her willingness to play politics with this issue are very troubling. However, this should not lead us as supporters to take our eyes off the ball and make this issue about Kate Murray instead of the Lighthouse. Concentrating on the benefits of the project and seeking the Supervisor's presence and input will help us achieve our goal of seeing this Island dream become reality.

Seth Godin's point works both ways. Engaging her would make it a lot more difficult for her to demonize and dismiss us.

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


  1. Read, Lies My Town Supervisor Told Me, at The Community Alliance Blog.