Monday, October 19, 2009

(Potential) Bipartisanship and (Potential) Dealing

It has been a busy few days for me, but we are moving into a new segment of the Lighthouse process, and we need to talk about two major events: State Sen. Dean Skelos' public endorsement of the Lighthouse Project and the news that Kate Murray and Charles Wang have agreed to meet in order to discuss "scaling down" the Lighthouse Project.

Away we go...

Skelos Stands Up

I have been deeply critical of Sen. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), who, as Minority Leader in the State Senate, engineered the coup d'etat that threw the New York State government into turmoil for most of the summer months. It was a bald power grab that deliberately distracted these politicians from doing the people's business, and while it is over that action is still not forgivable.

Despite this, Sen. Skelos took an action that could have a profound impact on the Lighthouse process when he publicly endorsed the vision put forth by Charles Wang and Scott Rechler. Skelos, the highest-ranking elected Republican in New York State, also became the most prominent Republican to endorse the project.

This is significant because the upcoming election has increased the very real risk of the Lighthouse Project calcifying into a purely partisan issue, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed. It has not always been like this; in fact, many prominent Republicans in the State Assembly sponsored an April 4 roundtable at Nassau Coliseum discussing the dire need for the type of private investment and services (namely the convention center) the Lighthouse will provide. However, recently (despite the relative silence from Legis. Ed Mangano, Tom Suozzi's opponent in the County Executive election), many Republicans, such as Joe "Blow it Out Your Dufflebag" Mondello, Legis. Peter Schmitt, have begun to criticize the Lighthouse or simply refuse to endorse it. With Tom Suozzi and other Democrats strongly pushing the Lighthouse as part of their re-election bids this year, it would be very easy for the Lighthouse to simply slide into the partisan abyss.

Sen. Skelos' endorsement could have more symbolic impact than anything, given the climate. His support could clear the way for other Republicans who were either on the fence or not willing to speak in public to now publicly speak in favor of the Lighthouse without fear of reprisal from the party establishment.

We should continue to watch this situation - I will be interested to see how it plays out.

Kate Makes Another Offer....In Public

UNIONDALE, NY - AUGUST 04: Kate Murray, Superv...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Kate Murray's conduct with regard to the Lighthouse Project has been one head-scratcher after another. She publicly spoke about not being able to take a position while she and her board took actions like the stimulus drive for the Coliseum and misleading, slanted mailers that doubtlessly suggested they have a position. They criticized Charles Wang for being unwilling to negotiate (and, yes, he should negotiate) even though the Town itself refused to meet with the developers to discuss size and scope - or even the process - almost from the very beginning in 2004. They continued to discuss changing the size and scope to "look out for the people" when scientific polls show that the majority of residents favor the project as proposed. It is with this context that we must view the Town's latest action - Kate Murray and Charles Wang agreeing to meet in order to discuss amending the size and scope of the Lighthouse Project.

I do not want to belabor many points I have already made. You all know that I believe the two sides should be talking, and you also know that I know Kate Murray is not a hero for suddenly and "generously" offering to do what a Town Supervisor should be responsible for doing from Day 1. You also know my theory that the Town of Hempstead will not approve the Lighthouse Project without being able to take credit for something, especially considering the PR nightmare this has largely been for the Town.

Therefore, this is not going to be a usual exhortation. I will, instead, offer some advice directly to the Town of Hempstead:

Supervisor, it is well-known that the Town of Hempstead is not known as proficient in handling large developments. I can look no further than the Town's clumsy and, at times, arrogant handling of the Bellmore Army Base in my own backyard for proof of that. The Lighthouse has reached its current place in part because the Town and Mr. Wang are used to standing their ground and getting what they want.

No more.

You cannot continue this cat-and-mouse game by talking vaguely about "scaling the Lighthouse down" without any substantive proposal of your own. You must also realize that, in order to get this done, you should make a proposal that is larger than your original instinct.

When you sit down with Charles Wang, do not force him to bid against himself. Make a substantive proposal to make sure you have someplace to go - and do it in the interest of the people you are supposed to serve.

Bottom Line

The time for grandstanding should be over (though with the Election only 2 weeks away, that might be too much to ask), and the time for substantive action for the good of Long Island has long passed. Kate Murray needs to get off her pedestal and, for the first time in this process, show a true, overt commitment to getting something done.

The people want this.

A large cadre of politicians want this.

Get it done.

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  1. Nick,

    I will be optimistic when I hear that Skelos is directly involving himself in the negotiation. He would be the perfect mediator...a senior republican who supports the project. Beyond that, I truly do not see this as having muchy of an impact.

  2. Anon, you're absolutely right, and that's why it's potential bipartisanship. If he does nothing else, Skelos could maybe influence other fence-sitting Republicans to come out in public and endorse the project. Many pro-Lighthouse Republicans I've spoken to consider this big news - so I guess we will have to see what happens now that his position is known.

  3. Skelos could help things SO much... I hope that he does exactly that!

  4. I can't blame Wang for his behavior here...He cant trust Murray...She strung him along for so long by using the excuse, "it would be a conflict of interest to negotiate with the developers of a project I will be voting on"... Now shes saying she wants to "negotiate, a scaled down plan, with Wang and the developers"...

    What a contradiction!!!Now she wants to negotiate with Wang and the developers so she can get what she wants before she votes on it"...Holy crap! This a conflict or interest with the very people who are saying they want this the way its planned...Murrays act is an unbelievable contradiction...Wang is probably very leery of meeting with her knowing she's probably gonna make ridiculous requests he cant accommodate only to waste more valuable time...

  5. Actually Islespassion21 it could be worse. They meet, she says, how do you plan on scaling this down, he said, too late to ask that now, meeting ends and she claims CW is unwilling to negotiate. But, she never presents anything and asks him to negotiate against himself. She has political cover....if you hate CW you point a finger at him, if you hate her, you point a finger at her. Meanwhile the election comes and goes and nothing happens. Only someone like Skelos can step in and move things forward...IMHO

  6. anonymous, either way Murray will come out of it and report to Newsday that "she met Wang and he didn'to want to work with her" when all the while, she didn't want to work with the developers until time was up...Oh, the coincidence

  7. The way I see it, Murray has looked over all the info & the TOH is in a yes or no position as it stands now. (likely a no)
    They are giving CW a chance to do a modification so they can make an approval on it, otherwise, it will be turned down. KM is trying to do the right thing here, plus get some political points in the process. After all, it is Wang that keeps saying, Yes or No, right?

  8. any and all of the scenarios above and speculated on elsewhere are possible. we really know almost nothing about this story, and that’s been the case from the outset. the fact is that politics – the politics associated with the various civil issues (other than the LH), and with republican vs. democrat, and with the actual election itself – all of that, has very little to do with this affair. ms. murray has never been in danger of losing the election, and there is virtually no chance she is going to vault from TOH supervisor to any serious higher office, based on/regardless how she deals with the LH. The conclusion of this intrigue will emerge from the shadows and will be rooted in how and where influence steers the money.

  9. nothing but murray trying to make herself look like she is being the good guy here. this bitch is nothing but a tool.

  10. anonymous,who says shes doing what shes doing for the benefit of anyone but herself and her pocket liners???

    Don't you see her charade???She wants to negotiate a scaled down project only so she can put her stamp on it and not because the people asked for it to be smaller...The people have spoken loud and clear and the majority want this the way it is...Now shes willing to actually meet the developers but don't you remember, according to her, "it would be like a judge meeting with the defendants of a court case"...If this were true then she is now contradicting herself and it shows her true colors...If this were a court case, according to her, shes doing the very thing she said would be wrong, and thats "meeting with the defendant", but she not only wants to meet with the "so called" defendants, she wants to actually "tamper with the case", if it were a court case...

    Come on now, stop drinking the cool aid, wake up, and smell the coffee....She cant be trusted and she doesn't have the people in mind... I'm drawing my conclusions, strictly, from her behavior...She has no credibility

  11. one more thing, anonymous, you think that Murray had reviewed all the of the info but the fact of the matter is she doesn't seem to know wtf is in that DGEIS report...She asked many questions at the rezoning hearing, which have been answered in those reports...Obviously shes too lazy to read it all after Wang spent millions to prepare it...Correct me if Im wrong, anyone, but at the rezoning hearing, one of the board members actually said the reason they didn't read it because it was 7000 pages long...

    Don't get me wrong I don't know how much I trust Wanger but I do know that Murray is an untrustworthy, scoundrel, proven by her lies and deceit...

  12. I don't think any position is 100% correct right now, but Kate Murray is certainly not a hero. These conversations should have happened years ago, but at very least they are happening now. I hope things can slow down after the election and we can work toward the common goal of getting this project approved.

    As for Dean Skelos, you can even look at the Courtesy Hotel issue in West Hempstead: his public endorsement cleared the way for other Republicans to step up and support it as well. There is so much momentum that now this can hopefully get done. Let's hope the same thing happens here, and if nothing else it proves that Republicans are far from united in opposition.

  13. And also, to be fair, I think we've all tried to read the tea leaves on Kate, and we haven't been successful. Statements are one thing, but the proof is in action. We need to see a commitment to moving this forward and giving it a fair up or down vote.

    Great discussion here, everyone. Really great to see.

  14. Well, what I see here is 2 parties past the "Certainty Date" trying to scramble to get an answer to save face. Like most here I do not trust Murray and her motives. It really goes back to the basic principle of the project. Wang and Rechler are financing one of the biggest improvements of Long Island since Levittown and the approval process is filled with roadblocks.

    Maybe a third party mediator should get involved as has been previously suggested somewhere, but I know the big question is where to find him(her).

    I really don't know what to think anymore myself, except let's hope that this gets settled one way or another soon.