Saturday, May 16, 2009

Can-Do vs. Can't-Do

Like many of you, I read the news of progress on Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project with great interest. I had long considered that project dead under an avalanche of community opposition, lawsuits, and questions about financing. There were so many issues, including the forced eviction of tenants, that I had considered it a much worse chance to happen than the Lighthouse. However, Bruce Ratner (owner of the NBA's New Jersey Nets), announced yesterday that he hopes to break ground on the multibillion-dollar development sometime this year.

(Blogger's Note: The NY Times is reporting October, but other outlets have different options...According to a "watchdog" blogger who appears to be the Bizarro Nick of the Atlantic Yards project, this means Ratner can't keep his story straight. Also, the Times cites many opponents who vow to continue the fight, proving a) Ratner is not out of the woods yet, and b) lawsuits can tie up a large project for years, even if they are not successful).

This is a perfect example of what I like to call Can-Do Mentality vs. Can't-Do mentality. A Can-Do mentality seeks to achieve the end goal in any way possible. A Can't-Do Mentality looks for excuses and smokescreens to block any movement forward because, well, change can be unsettling.

When it comes to the Lighthouse, there are many people still stuck in a Can't-Do mentality, either in elected offices or among people. They are reaching for excuses to not do it, either through fear or some misguided notion of self-preservation. As we saw yesterday, communities such as Hempstead and Garden City are even threatening to file suit if somebody doesn't start paying attention to them. One of the latest excuses is questioning whether Charles Wang and Scott Rechler can achieve financing for the Lighthouse. Gary Bettman did a wonderful job of turning the tables on those critics in a WFAN Interview yesterday. Bettman, in a wonderful example of Can-Do Mentality, ran with the criticism. He suggested that those in government who were not sure about financing should push the Lighthouse through and make Charles Wang and Scott Rechler prove they could get financing to build it. It is a reasonable sentiment that is too often lost around here on Long Island.

Honestly, I can't see the point of anything other than a Can-Do mentality. I would rather be the person constantly trying to move forward than the person desperately trying to stop others from moving forward. Which do you want to be? We have an option to do something truly great. The Atlantic Yards project took a step forward despite enormous odds because of a Can-Do mentality, and it's time to re-inject some of that spirit into Long Island. If we don't, some other community will Can-Do our young people, our sports team, and our economic future right out from under our noses.

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

(Blogger's Note: Please stay tuned for a big post tomorrow. I have a special treat for you that I am very excited about)


  1. great article.... i still believe this thing is possible and even though the politicians are fight right now, when push comes to shove this thing will get done! look at brooklyn and the penguins!

  2. I tend to agree, Alex. At this point, the momentum is there in such a degree that pulling the plug would be disastrous. If you forced me to make a projection, I'd say I had every confidence that something will get done. On the other hand, as this piece attempts to point out, decades of Can't-Do programming might have to be erased first.