Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Mangano Paradox

I realize that, given recent events, it's best to move forward rather than pat myself on the back for the blog's anniversary.  Therefore, after introducing The Suozzi Effect last week, it's time to delve into another new issue that will influence the Lighthouse Project this year: The Mangano Paradox.

Ed Mangano has been in office for a little less than a month, though we do have a resolution to the countdown I began on New Year's Day.  Mangano signaled to News 12 Interactive that he wants to see the Lighthouse Project moved forward, and a comment was made on Mangano's Facebook fan page that assured the Lighthouse Project was "a top priority for [the Mangano Administration]" and "something [the administration] is working diligently on."

We begin to see the paradox taking shape, because Ed Mangano has to take that difficult leap from rhetoric to results, and there are no cut-and-dry solutions.

The Paradox

It's important to note that I'm not expressing doubt that Ed Mangano truly supports the Lighthouse Project.  He told me so during our interview in October, he has said the same thing to every outlet that has asked, and unless he does something to signal a seismic shift in his position, I have no reason to believe Ed Mangano is not telling the truth.  However, Mangano must also act to move the Lighthouse Project forward, as best he can, within the known constraints and issues:

The Town of Hempstead currently controls the entire process because they have the power to zone the land.

Ed Mangano has signaled a reluctance to involve himself too deeply before the project is sent back to Nassau County.

The Town of Hempstead, historically, uses lack of attention to its advantage, and a lack of attention from the County Executive could give them cover to stall the project ad infinitum.

However, Tom Suozzi, who seemed to take every opportunity to beat any Republican in his sight with the Lighthouse Project for over 2 years, did not substantively move the needle, either.

Legis. Dave Denenberg told me at the environmental scoping hearings that he expected 12-18 months for the environmental review.  We are now in Month 20, with no sign of improvement and no appreciable progress toward a Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (FGEIS).

Trouble with the proposed development at the former Grumman property in Mangano's hometown of Bethpage has led some to question whether Mr. Mangano's credentials in land development are as solid as he claimed.

Those claiming Ed Mangano is a traditional machine politician may be over-simplifying things.  Mangano is the first Republican County Executive in literally decades to not be promoted from within the Hempstead machine, a group that has given us Al D'Amato, Tom Gulotta, Joe Mondello, and others.  To suggest he would automatically be beholden to these interests may not be accurate, and it gives the new County Executive a golden opportunity to prove his independence.

This is The Mangano Paradox: Ed Mangano now owns the Lighthouse issue in Nassau County.  He needs to take action within his power and his role in the process to move this forward.  However, both of the obvious actions (give the Town of Hempstead space and cajole the Town to move forward) could lead to failure or a near infinite stall.

Bottom Line

Ed Mangano needs to tread a very fine line, but I believe there is a way for him to do that and effect positive change in the Lighthouse saga.

Currently, the Town and Lighthouse are barely speaking and appear to be far apart on negotiations for an amended project scope (10% reductions according to the Lighthouse vs. 35% heard from the Town of Hempstead).  Kate Murray has become brazen, attempting to scare residents with density figures that are far from reality.  It's clear that a white knight is needed to make each side renounce the trenches.

Ed Mangano can be that white knight.

He can  use his demonstrated experience in land development and bipartisan negotiation to bring both sides back to the table.

I think the best possible outcome would be a summit and public press conference in Mineola in which the County Executive would re-affirm the Lighthouse as a priority and help to jump-start the stalled negotiations.  The first bits to come out of this could be baby steps such as finally publishing a process to shepherd the Lighthouse Project to a final up-or-down vote on re-zoning.

Ed Mangano has a tremendous opportunity, and I hope he seizes it.

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  1. Remember that Long Island Press story saying the project is dead (and how we all thought it was so outrageous) has been radio silence from Wang, perhaps the story is true afterall????

  2. Anon - it's right to be concerned, but we've had an op-ed from Scott Rechler mentioning the project, and people working for the Lighthouse are still going to work. It's not over - they're laying low, and I would argue it's not helping their cause, but it's not over.

  3. Perhaps Lighthouse people are looking at other options. what would be a big deal if their mega projectis called Lighthouse somewhere in NYC? That may explain their silence (just my 2 cents).

  4. Mangano is just a fraud and a puppet to the ridiculously corrupt political landscapte.

    Nick, I love what you've been doing, I love the idea of the Lighthouse, not just for the refurb Coli but for the whole area, the attraction, but it pains me to watch this guy spew garbage when he put down the project to me.
    While at a street fair in New Hyde Park(before your interview), Mangano was walking around with his cronies soliciting votes. I asked one of his people what his stance was on the LHP. They made sure to have him explain, he came over to me and smiled. "I see where your thoughts are" he said to me after seeing my Bailey Shirt. He then started on all the talking points that were the main focus at the time. "Tell me, why does he need so many buildings." Blah blah blah, he was a horrible person to speak to, he wouldn't let me speak, and kept pushing the talking points and me (literally, he was a close talker). I finally walked away. Later in the day, I saw George Maragos, new County Comptroller (before he won) and asked for his stance. He looks at my Islander shirt, then at me, and says, "I'm a Republican, what do you think." What I think, I can't write or couldn't tell him.
    I still have hope, like you, I believe this is what Nassau County needs. Hopefully Mangano grows a set and steps up to the idiots that have been running things and realize that he holds the future of Nassau County in his hands. He can prove his strength by just saying FU Joe, Al, Kate. Time to do the right thing.

    Step up Ed.

  5. nick, good job seeing this through for a year+ now. i admire your level of commitment and insistence on trying to maintain objectivity here. one thing though, the influence of the "old republican machine" is not about one, two or three individuals simply issuing directives to those "beholden" to them. even in its heyday it was more of a - for lack of a better word - syndicate - of office holders, business interests" and some other assorted characters with pull. the roots of influence are even less concentrated now, and less powerful, but obviously still with enough clout to constrain if not command this situation. i know almost nothing about mr. mangano's background, principals or loyalties. all i know about his true intentions re the LH is what he has said publicly, which is not much, other than he wants some form of it. i just don't know to what extent mr. mangano and his position can affect any outcome. i suspect not much.

  6. Kate's supposed to talk about the LHP today at a GC CoC event.

  7. Ed Mangano has a choice here, he can be part the MACHINE or an independent Republican. We know how bad it will be if he picks the MACHINE but if he goes independent he could change Nassau forever for the better. This I hope will be his path because both Nassau & the Republican Party need a man who will stand-up to the RINOS in Westbury & help the private sector create jobs not kill them. If it goes our way I motion that we name something at The Lighthouse after Ed Mangano. If it does not go our way the Republican Party will be finished in Nassau.

  8. Nick - Haven't commented in awhile, but do check-in from time to time. Keep it up!
    Would be very interested to hear what KM said at this GC Chamber event, where she was supposed to touch on LH and light rail.


  9. Derek, your post disturbs me because I believe it

  10. From Dereks link "

    The Garden City Chamber of Commerce will welcome Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray as keynote speaker at its 2010 kick-off luncheon next Thursday, January 28, noon, at the Garden City Hotel. Supervisor Murray will bring members and guests up to date on “The Development of Business in Hempstead Town.” Also addressed will be the “Lighthouse Project, the Light Rail Third Track, the development of homes in East Garden City and beyond as well as other pertinent topics".

    Hey Nick, hasn't it been said 100 times there is no light rail system proposed???

  11. As for the Lighthouse proposal, the Hempstead town board is the ultimate zoning authority in the approval process.

    Principles Charles Wang and Scott Rechler hope to transform the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum site and its surrounding area into a "modern 24/7 suburban center" with a revitalized arena for the New York Islanders. The project includes mixed-use residential housing, retail and entertainment venues, Class A office space, a multi-purpose athletic complex, minor league ballpark and the first 5-star hotel on Long Island.

    "From the moment we received Mr. Wang's and Mr. Rechler's application, we were excited about the prospect of good, sane development at the coliseum HUB area," Supervisor Murray said. "Despite at times very intense advocacy on both sides of the issue, I think we have chartered a very steady course ... I think we have taken our job as the ultimate zoning authority with regard to this project very seriously."

    In the two years the town has had the application, Murray said councilmembers have been concerned about a number of issues raised through its environmental analysis.

    "The traffic issues, the water issues, the quality of life issues that surround a project of this size can't be taken lightly," the supervisor said. Numerous issues have been raised, including enough water and electricity to accommodate such a large project, as well as traffic congestion and how the proposed retail would affect local downtowns.

    "I want to be clear, the town board has never uttered privately or publicly that they do not want to see any development at the coliseum," Murray said. "The coliseum is really an ugly eyesore. It needs some good development. It needs some sane development. We just want to make sure that the quality of life for those residents who are surrounding the coliseum area and beyond are taken care of as well."

    Murray noted that with the change in the county legislature and administration, with Ed Mangano now at the helm, Wang and Rechler have to "do some homework."

    "They don't have a lease in place. There was a memorandum of understanding between former county executive [Tom] Suozzi and Mr. Wang and Mr. Rechler. They have some issues that they have to deal with on the county level," Murray noted. "On the town level, we'll continue to do our environmental analysis to work towards a successful resolution of this issue."

    How clueless is this woman? Or, how on-the-take is this woman?

    Take your pick.

    -Big Van Vader

  12. So Kate basically said that it's out of her hands until Wang and Rechler negotiate the lease with Mangano and Nassau County?

    The circle jerk continues.

  13. "It needs some good development. It needs some sane development. "

    This is the one part that REALLY worries me. This screams to me that she wants to give the development rights to someone else. Is she stating that the Lighthouse Project is "INSANE" development? Why? Because it has outside the box thinking? So far Murray hasn't answered the tough questions, (because no one seems willing to put her fat $#@ on the hot seat)and is very adept at handling all the softies.

    Ed Mangano? Show us if you are truly part of the solution, or just another Kate Murray.

    -Big Van Vader

  14. The Development rights ARE going to someone else. Even if she approves the LHP today, Wang will sell the project off to other developers, he's said that much himself. That's Wang can't answer basic questions about the project, once it gets approved much of the development will be out his hands. Also one aspect that's not being talked about is portions of the Meadowbrook will become a raised highway to handle the additional traffic. Anybody ever see what Brooklyn looks like in the neighborhood underneath the Gowanis?

  15. Anybody ever see what Uniondale looks like?

    Who cares who builds it? Whether it's Wang or someone else as long as it gets built.

    Change is happening all over. It's a part of our daily existence. Standing around doing nothing is what's gotten us into this mess in the first place on LI.

    -Big Van Vader

  16. Anonymous:

    Please submit a link to information that states that a portion of the Meadowbrook will be raised. The only discussion of raising anything at all the meetings I've been to is the pedestrian walk over Hempstead Turnpike.

  17. go to Mangano's fb page several posters were discussing it.

  18. Hey everyone, slammed doesn't even begin to describe my day, so I'm just catching up with this now.

    Re: Meadowbrook. I haven't heard anything about the Meadowbrook being raised; the only thing discussed in the open has been a tweaking of interchanges and traffic patterns in order to improve traffic flow and direct more traffic onto the under-utilized Charles Lindbergh Blvd.

    Re: Light Rail. This is an important distinction that needs to be made. The Lighthouse Project, a private development, is not the same as the Nassau Hub, which is a government program. Tom Suozzi has talked about transportation options such as light rail as part of his "Hub" project, but that's not included in the Lighthouse plans, nor is the Lighthouse counting on it in any analysis.

    I'll talk a little bit about Kate Murray's talk in Garden City when I get some time tomorrow. Good night, all.

  19. Go to Queens or Brooklyn already!

  20. KM statement is the same old, same old. The only way this project is ever going to be completed is if Wang calls TOH bluff. Wang needs to talk to Brooklyn and come up with a proposal/time frame of when the Isles would be moving to Brooklyn. IF TOH knows the Isles are leaving Uniondale they will have no choice but to react or pass a tax increase onto the citizens of Nassau County.

  21. Funny how that all of the bluster from Mr Wang, all seems to come up short of taking any action to enact that threat (i.e. actually talking to Brooklyn and Queens). Isn't that the definition of "exploring our options" that was alluded to on the Oct 3 2009 deadline.

    I find that all very interesting

  22. Islanderbill, Wang may be talking to Brooklyn and/or Queens, but he may be doing it behind the closed doors and not publicizing it.

  23. Jae,

    Actually I'm not so sure.

    He should really have made it public...If the TOH is not aware of what he is doing then they have no reason to move.

    If the fans are not aware... there is no reason to put pressure on the TOH

  24. islanderbill, Wang has done things his way from time to time ( such as signing Ricky for 15 years). Did the fans know before hand that Wang was going to sign Ricky to a 15 year deal before the Isles announced it? Not a chance. Why on earth should Wang tell TOH of what he is trying to do with the Islanders? Rather than putting pressure on TOH, I think Wang has already hit the TOH below the belt by signing the sublease with SMG in late December of 09. In that sublease the Isles can leave Nassau Coliseum before 2015 pending Nassau County approval (NOT TOH) as well as other revenues that the Isles did not get in the past ( a significant portion of those revenues raked up by SMG went to Republicans as bribes). Also, as TOH is demanding up to 35% reduction on the project, why would Wang not be inclined to move? Why hasn't Wang said anything against Murray's bogus claims regarding the Lighthouse project since the new year? In a fight, if you hit somebody below the belt regarding a possession that the other person has, would you really listen to his hardened demands regarding that possession? In my opinion, I think there is a fair chance (as Wang has been delusional from time to time) that he is weighing his options of Brooklyn and Queens and probably wouldn't make his final decision until middle of the year when the developer of the Willets Point project is chosen.

  25. Agreed on Wang going the road less travelled.

    Sometimes it does not make sense.

    on the Lease. Wang allegedly has been bleeding money on the isles for years. One of the biggest culprits on this is the Concessions/parking at the NVMC. That portion of the lease had to go whether or not they are staying there.

    The point I'm trying to make (I guess) is the fact that Charlie had take an aggressive approach to the LHP almost since day 1. He laid out a "deadline for certainty" of 10/3/09 or he would be exploring "other options". That day came and went and exactly what was the threat supposed to be ....Oh I'll shut up now. That will not get anything done. The only voices we have heard in any official capacity on this has been from Kate Murray and I am not liking what I'm hearing. "they have to do their homework" and so forth.

    We will see what happens here, but it seems that Charlie's threat was a big nothing and with Wang's biggest political ally on this project voted out of office, I don't think he has a leg to stand on. I may be wrong, but that is the vibe I'm getting.

    Interesting point on the sublease (just re-read your post Jae..) However it does not matter whether it is on the County or town level the sublease basically has no effect on the moving situation because it is pending county approval. I know the Isles are not going anywhere until 2015. If Charlie puts up the white flag now, and sells the team we may not have a team anymore.

    In addition the LHP will never be able to fufill it's promise of starting revitalization of LI, and I feel there will be a bunch of strip malls where the Isles once resided.

  26. Nick,

    I always wanted to ask you this:

    Don't Wang and Rechler being who THEY ARE have any pull in New York State? Aren't they both Republican? Haven't they been in business at the high end for many years? Enough to make numerous huge deals? Don't they, between the both of them, have enough clout to get this done?

    Hmmm. I believe I have answered my own question(s) as this HASN'T gotten done.

    -Big Van Vader

  27. at this point, i think the question might be 'do they want to get this done?' i missed wang's appearance between periods last night but apparently he said there's been NO CONTACT between the parties. pretty telling, to say the least.

  28. BVV - Scott Rechler has a wonderful reputation all around, but the Town of Hempstead genuinely dislikes Charles Wang. Unfortunately, the Town of Hempstead is the only relevant agency right now.