Monday, April 27, 2009

Party First?

There have been some disturbing rumors regarding the Town of Hempstead's thinking toward the Lighthouse. I have not wanted to write about it until I got more evidence that it was a potential issue. That time has finally come.

Long Island's Changing Political Scene

Barack Obama's election as President was seen by many as a signal of a changing political scene in the United States. Many areas, including Indiana, which went for George W. Bush by a margin of 20 percentage points in 2004, suddenly flipped to the Democratic side. Long Island is seeing similar trends, and it could be affecting the Lighthouse Project.

Long Island's recent blue tint is reflected in the increasingly Democratic Town Supervisors. Frank Petrone, Huntington Town Supervisor, switched to the Democratic Party in 2002 and has governed as a Democrat ever since (source). Democrat Steve Bellone leads the Town of Babylon. The Town of North Hempstead is run by Jon Kaiman, a multi-term Democrat. Democrat Phil Cardinale won election in the Town of Riverhead by just 49 votes in 2004, but he has since been re-elected twice. Democrat James Dougherty runs the tiny Town of Shelter Island, and Democrat William McGintee runs the Town of East Hampton. The Town of Islip elected Phil Nolan, a Democrat, during the Democratic sweep into power in 2007. Most recently, on March 31 of this year, Democrat Mark Lesko broke the Republican stronghold on the Town of Brookhaven in a special election. This was seen as a litmus test, since Mr. Lesko was running against a lifelong resident of Brookhaven who was seen as connected to the local Republican apparatus.

The Towns of Hempstead (Kate Murray), Southampton (Linda Kabot), Southold (Scott Russell) and Oyster Bay (John Venditto) are the only Civil Townships on Long Island governed by Republicans. If the recent trends continue, these seats could be seen as vulnerable in the coming years.

Meet Democrats at the Lighthouse?

Sources connected to the approval process have been telling me for months about the strange requests the Town of Hempstead has made about the Lighthouse. We've discussed previously that only 19 of the Town's requests for change in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement were valid, and over 150 were simple spelling mistakes.

However, there was also a more sinister allegation:
"The Town of Hempstead has been asking the Lighthouse Development Group about the expected political affiliation of anybody who would live at the development. They are concerned it will add Democrats [to the Town's voter rolls]." - Source Close to Negotiations
I have not written about this because I do not like to push potential storylines without confirmation. I recently received this confirmation in a note from another friend and source. This person, who is deeply connected with the Republican Party in Nassau County, told me that sources within the Town of Hempstead do not want to build the Lighthouse because it would bring too many "New York City Democrats" into the Town of Hempstead (or keep some traditional Democratic voters, like younger people, from leaving). Some sources have even blamed gated and mixed-use communities for the rise of the Democratic Party in other townships.

If true, this is a very serious charge. I have discussed many times that I see no cogent reasons to oppose the project, and while organized citizen opposition has not emerged, political opposition could be rearing its ugly head. In addition, I would hope our elected officials would want to get re-elected because of their outstanding service, not because they prevented people of the opposite party from living in their jurisdiction.

I have said before that I do not want to make this a partisan political issue when it does not have to be, but that could be exactly what is happening. Maybe, at the end of the day, this whole complicated issue has a simple Democrat vs. Republican core.

Bottom Line

Call me naive, call it wishful thinking, call it whatever you want, but I hope with all my heart that these rumors are not true. I hope that elected officials will consider the best interests of the public and not just their party when evaluating decisions as important as the Lighthouse.

However, while I have a streak of naivete, I am also a very realistic person. This is a serious allegation, and one that merits a response from both the Town of Hempstead and the Republican Party.

Prove you put the people before your party. Prove you are serving your office with the best interests of our Island at heart, and don't you dare treat our future like a game.

Please share your thoughts in comments. Petition. Email Me. Follow me on Twitter.


  1. This is incredibly depressing but not the least bit surprising.

  2. It's not a rumor, it's not a charge. It's the truth. And it's ridiculous. Thanks, Nick, for exposing this.

  3. looking more and more bleak

  4. and once again, WHERE IS NEWSDAY?!?!

  5. How is the lighthouse project suppose to know what political association the people will have?

  6. i c where this is going.... BREAKING NEWS: ToH has shot down, Lighthouse Project due to fears that residents will have Swine Flu! Details at 11!

  7. Nick. Your reluctance to become involved in the politicalization of this issue is somewhat understandable. Ideally, this should not be about partisanship and office-holder agendas but loftier ambitions. However, politics is of course THE driving factor in all this, it has to be, and you are providing what investigative journalists (read: Newsday) - who should be all
    over the story but are entirely absent and/or gutless - are supposed to be giving us. Bottom line, I think when you become aware of this kind of stuff - YOU HAVE TO RUN IT.

  8. Also, I would hope you'd bring stuff like this to the attention of others who may not be regular readers here but who could possibly develop the information further.

  9. Day1 - I agree with you. I held the story in order to receive confirmation and to protect sources. Had it been run when I originally heard it, it would have been just a rumor instead of a persistent rumor that is likely fact, and my sources would have been exposed. Now, I've heard confirmation.

    We'd all love for this to be a happy-go-lucky project where the politicians do what's in the best interest of the public, but in an election year politics will intrude on all sides. I've heard from more people that this has been going on, and I had to run with it now.

    Anon #2 - I'm with you. I didn't think living in an apartment automatically made you a Democrat.

    As for the media - I agree that we can't be the only ones out there beating the drum, and I hope outlets like Newsday, News 12, and even more national outlets can come in. However, we also have to be the ones contacting them and making sure they know how important this is to us.

  10. Day1 - can you email me at You've brought up some valid points I want to discuss offline.

  11. This has and always will be about politics.

  12. Move the team to Queens!

  13. Nick as always, fantastic stuff. You could have probably guessed the way things were going by the time we all sat down for the LHP meeting at the Marriot. Things were going south then and will be even further drowned in the muck in the coming months.

    I just have a feeling that when the October deadline is looming, Kate Murray is going to miraculously switch her position on the LHP and try to garner votes for the November election. Let's hop that ToH residents are smarter than that.

  14. Anon - Queens should remain an option until shovels are in the ground, but it won't be the slam dunk some people think it will be. That's all I'll say; my views on Queens are well-known.

    Doug - excellent analysis, my friend. This is the point of The Dip, but we must continue to push through the roadblocks unless hope is completely gone. Hope is still there, and out of this bickering I just want to work out a reasonable agreement.

  15. This is absurd. Why should we have to suffer cause of political nonsense. These politicians have no brains. As Islander fans, or as hockey fans if your not an Islander fan we need to band together and get into there heads that this is the right thing to do for Nassau County. Not just for the Isles and Islander fans. Kate Murray is a deadbeat politician.