Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Gospel of Objectivity, According to Kate

I can be an almost ruthlessly logical person. I like it because it allows me to see things very clearly and to identify patterns that are not evident to many others. However, it also has more than its fair share of drawbacks. As a result of this, I sometimes get stuck on certain things, people, or behaviors. I will admit; the Town of Hempstead has now become a sticking point for me. I have never seen a government body that seems to act completely without logic. Worse, I can't shake the feeling that they actually identify the logical thing to do and consciously decide to do the opposite.

Kate Murray has repeatedly made questionable decisions in relation to the Lighthouse because, according to her, she needs to stay objective. However, her behavior suggests otherwise, and to suggest she is being objective is both illogical and insulting.


Kate Murray has repeatedly stressed ethical requirements in dealing with the Lighthouse. According to this theory, she cannot engage with the Lighthouse or its proponents because she will eventually have to stand in judgment of the project (at a re-zoning hearing).

These are lofty goals, but they completely fall apart when you actually examine the Town of Hempstead's behavior. According to Kate Murray, the following actions are prohibited:
  • Attending public meetings on the Lighthouse - including those sponsored by her own government.
  • Engaging Tom Suozzi and the Lighthouse group on the approval process (as we pointed out, she blew off a scheduled meeting just yesterday).
  • Talking to voters.
  • Discussing what parts of the project should be approved.
In the same vein, the following actions are apparently fine:
  • Sending (taxpayer-funded) mailers filled with misinformation about the Lighthouse.
  • Starting a (taxpayer-funded) web site supporting a phony petition drive
  • Continuing to push the (false) theory that stimulus money is available for a Coliseum renovation
  • Sending condescending letters blaming all problems on Nassau County to any voter who calls about the Lighthouse
This is not objectivity - this is a ruse.

The Lighthouse has finally triggered some investigative reporting about the way Kate Murray runs the Town of Hempstead. So far, we have the following:
  • Kate Murray's 83-year-old father, who earns a $40,000 pension from the Town, makes $45 an hour in a clerical job, three times the average rate for that sort of job.
  • Kate Murray's two brothers are employed by the Hempstead Parks Department
  • The Town of Hempstead has hired Frederick P. Clark Associates, an environmental consulting firm based in Westchester, to perform hundreds of thousands of dollars in work for the Lighthouse, but Kate Murray has refused to return all of the thousands in political donations. This raises the troubling but very real specter of pay-for-play.
Newsday's editorial board released an opinion on patronage in the Town of Hempstead tonight.

As per BD Gallof of Islanders Independent - insiders at the Town of Hempstead are criticizing the Lighthouse group's conduct in the process. They point to the Avalon Bay development at Mitchell Field (more on this later) as an example of a developer who played the game properly. What did Avalon Bay do? They agreed to cede 22 acres back to Nassau County and donate $1 million to the Uniondale School District as a "quid-pro-quo" (their words) in exchange for re-zoning of the property.

Pay for play is the proper conduct?

By the way - Kate Murray recused herself from debate on this project because her sister works for the law firm representing Avalon Bay. Does it ever end?

The Harsh Light of Day

I have wondered before whether the Town of Hempstead is in over its head with the Lighthouse. This project is far more visible and the stakes are much higher than anybody in the Town is used to. Despite this, they continue to employ the same cloak-and-dagger tactics that they have used time and again. The pattern emerged through debacles like the Bellmore Army Base and the Courtesy Hotel - deal is made quickly, Town of Hempstead congratulates itself for going so fast, then it begins to play games and snarl development for years on end. It might work for something like the Bellmore Army Base, that only affects about 50 homes in the Bellmore area, but something like the Lighthouse Project is too big to be swept under any rug.

I think one of our greatest Presidents said it best:
"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time." - Abraham Lincoln
The Town of Hempstead, through its ridiculous, buck-passing letters, insistence on blaming everyone else, and spreading of false information through (taxpayer-funded) mailers and the media, is clearly trying to fool all the people all the time. The problem is citizens like us - the heavy glare of truth will expose a lot of these long-standing practices and serve to wake up others to the mismanagement under which we are suffering. Many illusions will melt under this white-hot glare, and it is possible more than one political career could as well.

(Blogger's Note: Check out today's excellent piece from BD Gallof on a similar subject)

The Town of Hempstead can make noises and congratulate itself on its speed until the goats have eaten all the grass in Nassau County. One fact remains: until Kate Murray's actions match with her rhetoric, she is standing in the way.

Bottom Line

There is a standard pattern emerging here, and you can boil it down to one simple idea: Kate Murray does not fear reprisal from voters. BD Gallof's insider at the Town of Hempstead clearly said that, assuming nobody will rise up in defense due to the empty seats at Nassau Coliseum.

This is Kate Murray's problem, since the point of public office is to serve the people. However, it's our problem as well. We, as voters and residents, need to make sure that we get our voices out there and make it clear that our votes hinge on ultimate approval of this project. If we do not call, if we do not show up to public hearings, then we allow them to continue operating under this delusion that 2,000 Islanders fans support the Lighthouse and nobody else.

As I Tweeted earlier today, this needs to become a movement, and I am more than ready to help lead it. Let us stand together and continue to shine the bright light of truth onto the machine politics that seem to be snarling a new way forward for our Island.

Also, I want to issue a challenge to the Town of Hempstead. I have repeatedly called and written to the Town of Hempstead asking for comments. I have been either dismissed, stonewalled, or insulted (through the ridiculous Lighthouse form letter). If anybody from the Town of Hempstead is reading this and wants to share the Town's side of the story, I will gladly oblige you and post it here, unedited. You can email me at lettherebelighthouse@gmail.com. Ball's in your court.

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


  1. I hope someone is taking a good close look at the list of contributors to Ms. Murray's political cash box. The same list the Frederick Clark firm is on. Behind the names on the list are sure to be some curious and revealing details. Some tedious exploring may be necessary but nothing too exhaustive. Sometimes arrogance alone allows for valuable discovery. I'd like to really get into it myself but cannot. I trust someone on our side is exploring this avenue to its end.

  2. "Kate Murray does not fear reprisal from voters."
    This is what it all boils down to, Nick. and this is why we who ARE educated about the project will have to figure out new ways to reach out to those who are not. I think that some brainstorming is going to be necessary, and that the draft party could be a good time to spread the word to fans regarding whatever that plan might be.

    I am also very interested in who will be running against Kate Murray... I am going to throw my support behind any decent human being who will help us get her out of office.

  3. "this needs to become a movement"

    I agree 1000% I have said this from the start we need to start grass roots, that is not affiliated with the development group to show Ms. Murray and the TOH that this is more then just Islander fans. When we organize right under their nose garner some media attention the TOH will no longer be able to ignore us. I am certainly willing to help plan and set up any kind of organization of Lighthouse supporters. Legis Denenberg started it off with the save the Island Save the Islanders lets keep the ball rolling all summer

    Let me know anyway I can help Nick

  4. This is from the Community Alliance Blog, a little insight into the type of person Kate Murray is:

    A life of leisure on the farm for Molly the runaway cow?

    Not so fast, Borden breath.

    Town of Hempstead Supervisor, Kate Murray, has other plans for Molly. Big plans. The kinda plans that make for extra copies of those Murraygrams underfoot, so you won't step in any cow you-know-what.

    Yes, at a news conference hastily called this morning in front of the Dairy Barn on Washington Street, Murray, sporting a black and white imitation cowhide jacket, and Town Councilwoman, Angie Cullin, of Angie Cullin's Culinary Delights & Gun Shop, told reporters that Molly -- and her entire bovine family, thrice remoooved -- would be relocated to Hempstead Town, put on the payroll (of course), and permitted to munch away at weeds on the great Hempstead Plain.

    "We absolutely believe that there's a place for Molly in Hempstead Town," said a smiling Murray. "She's got moxie, two stomachs, a miniscule carbon footprint, and we've got more bull here in this town than any cow could handle."

    That Methane footprint, on the other hand...

    Never one to miss a photo op, the Supervisor promptly hopped upon Mollie's hump -- with the able assistance of Senior Councilman Tony "I thought we were going to bar-b-que this beast" Santino -- and rode off directly into the sun toward Levittown.

    "Hiyo Molly, away," shouted Murray.

    Free milk today for everyone in Hempstead Town. Next week, a chicken in every special district.

    Folks, you simply cannot make this stuff up. And you thought this only happens in the moooovies...

  5. Ive called Kickback Kate 3 times over the past 2 months maybe, and have not received any correspondence back (not even an insulting preprinted form letter). All Ive done when calling is to ask for a comment/status update on the Lighthouse project. Today I asked about her Dad and his $40 an hour clerk job. And again, the aide answering the phone said Kate had no comment but would get back to me. I'm not holding my breath.

    I find it really amazing that a public servant can have this type of dismissive attitude toward a voter in her district. Obviously she doesn't think it will cost her the election.

  6. maybe ms. murray has opted for the 'palin track'