Friday, May 22, 2009

The Re-Elect Kate Murray Kick Off Party

There were stars and stripes bunting, banjos and free ice cream. There were signs on tall sticks high over head with Kate Murray’s name and likeness on them. A town employee prompted a “We Like Kate!” chant as he walked through the crowd standing in the sun on this Friday afternoon in front of the Levittown Veteran’s Memorial. It was picture perfect. If the picture were being taken in 1945.

This is politics and politics on Long Island is getting quite ugly. This was the “Kate Murray for Supervisor” re-election kick-off party. I was handed a press release for the event and noticed the first paragraph which states “Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray launched her re-election campaign before hundreds of cheering supporters.” Forgive me, this is my first exposure to one of these, but how did they know there would be “hundreds of supporters” if it was already printed? Why not “thousands”? Or how about “quite a few,” as if I had put down my camera and my recorder I may have been able to count the actual attendees using my fingers and toes. (They were accessible, I waswearing sandals.)

Nassau County Republican Chairman Joe Mondello took the podium. His words were passionate and strong. He felt the press is “… giving the democrats a free ride. We’re going to take a positive approach to this campaign. I’m going to have a lot to say on how this thing unfolds. We are going to spare no time, no effort, no money to re-elect a great supervisor: Kate Murray. Make no mistake; the Democrats are absolutely after us. They are not satisfied having the Federal government, the State and they are in charge of the County. They want our Towns too and they want your Town. And they want your jobs." (Huh? okay. I kept listening.)

"And we are the only government in Nassau County that is fiscally conservative. We are the only ones where Kate Murray has held the line on taxes. She’s done what she had to do. She’s really addressed the problems. She’s absolutely pro-growth. But she wants the people not to be hurt. She’s the watchdog (woof). She has to look out for the people of this township. And she’s going to start letting people know, not getting defensive not fighting back that way, but letting people know that she is out there looking out for their interests." Does that mean she'll be more accessible to the media? I can't be sure.

"And she can’t jump at anything. I saw a sign before that had something to do with the coliseum. We’re all for redoing the Coliseum, what we are NOT for is ANYTHING else that is going to be a part of it that could really injure the Town of Hempstead. And there are villages that are concerned. The Village of Garden City (that has threatened to sue), the Village of Hempstead and other people that are concerned about…”

And then the hell gates opened. A very small group of vocal supporters of the Lighthouse project yelled out. What was Mr. Mondello’s response?

“Blow it out your duffle bag pal. They’re being paid by Charles Wang. That’s what’s going on here.” (Does he really think the kid knows what the hell a Duffle bag is?)

Really Mr. Mondello? Somehow I missed out on that action and I know some of those who were there to be vocal.

“So as far as I’m concerned, let’s do what we do best and that’s win elections especially in the town of Hempstead.”

Now, I’m a registered Republican myself and somewhere along the line I believe we’ve been LOSING quite a few elections Mr. Mondello, not winning them.

Kate Murray took the podium to cheers. “Why are we here today? We are here today because residents of America’s largest township deserve leadership they can trust. While other governments are in fiscal chaos, Hempstead is earning the highest Wall Street credit ratings and in a time when other officials at other levels of government rely on fiscal gimmicks, like deferring personnel costs, we refuse to mortgage our children’s future. We’re here to tell our residents that you can produce a tax freeze budget and still maintain the finest municipal services anywhere.”

“The Hempstead town Republican team that we have here is managing government well. We planned for this economic recession we’re in, and we’re a model of financial strength. You won’t hear us blaming the economy for fiscal mismanagement. Leave that to the government officials who would rather point fingers than lead. We don’t do that in the Town of Hempstead.” T
“How are we helping the Town of Hempstead residents? We are freezing the town taxes once again. This is the second town tax freeze in the last three years.” To be clear, I am not a ToH resident, so I don’t know what that equates to, but I am under the impression that taxes are high begin with. Tom Suozzi’s new June 1st energy tax was cited and understandably booed.

“We know that the economy is tough out there, so we have our OWN $40 million stimulus program. Now is the time that folks need projects that will support and create jobs. And that’s exactly what we are doing in the town of Hempstead.” (I guess she has more relatives that need work.)
“Our $40 million capital program will finance jobs and road improvements and other infrastructure upgrades that we’re going to put resident’s to work. In addition to creating jobs and stimulating the economy, we’re doing it in a Green responsible manner. We have Long Islands ONLY solar powered Government office.”
That actually sounded quite good. So did the “How To” seminars Ms. Murray said the Town offers to residents on solar power. She also mentioned a water “e-cycling” program.
If, indeed, this is what the Town is looking for, did they mention to the Lighthouse developers that water "e-cycling" should be part of their proposal? I don’t know.

Ms. Murray also felt that due to the economy, fewer residents would be taking vacations and opting for “Stay-cations” instead which should see increased use of the town's parks and beaches.
“We saved the beach at Point Lookout. We have swim lessons, yoga lessons; quite frankly you could have a full time job just taking part in the free programs that the Town of Hempstead has to offer.” (How much does that job pay Ms. Murray? $40 an hour? Sorry.)
When it comes to affordable housing, Murray stated that they have built more “affordable” homes in the Town of Hempstead than in any other municipality. “We refinanced the refurbishment of over 800 affordable apartments. We’ve created 1,300 affordable units for our seniors, and now we have partnered with developers that have an additional 2000 units for our seniors so that they can stay in their communities.”
These developers are probably not Charles Wang and Scott Rechler. Although I’m curious that she wants to preserve the suburban lifestyle and is talking about approximately the same number of residential units that the Lighthouse project has proposed. I am wondering where
these 2,000 units are planned.
“We have to help our Mom & Pop businesses more than ever, and in that regard we have done nine successful down-town renovations in Oceanside, Baldwin, Elmont, Levittown, Franklin Square, Merrick, Bellmore, Roosevelt, East Meadow and Seaford. And we’re working to get into even more towns. “
As that is TEN towns and she claimed nine were successful, I’d like to know which one was a failure.

While looking around the crowd at the few in the Blue, White & Orange, Ms. Murray’s tone changed.
“Let’s talk about the other developments that are going on, not only at the Coliseum (which hasn’t seen a shovel yet, but okay) but all around the Town,” she became stern, "Let me tell’ya the Murray Team is innovative and we’re open to innovative, progressive development while we are absolutely committed to preserving our suburban character. That is our legal responsibility and that is our moral responsibility.”
Last I checked there was no “suburban character” in the 150 acres of asphalt surrounded by a college, a highway, an empty lot and a recycling center. Are McDonald’s, Starbucks and Chipotle part of “suburban character"?

“We have approved some very innovative transit oriented developments next to the West Hempstead train station and in a number of other communities. And we continue to look to all other development plans with open minds.”

I’m just wondering how she can look to other plans when she won’t attend a meeting with a developer. In going over the media release, I saw the same items she outlined in her speech; however I miss the hyperlinks that internet text would provide. I would like to see back up to these very powerful and impressive messages she gave today, and I’m lazy and do not want to have to search the internet for them myself.

Once again, Ms. Murray became stern in her tone looking at the Lighthouse supporters in the crowd, “That being said, we won’t be bullied." (Yes, bullied by the public. The very VOCAL public.) "The safety and welfare of our residents is of the utmost importance to all of us on the town board and it’s our legal and moral responsibility to make sure that the quality of life enjoyed by our residents is preserved. It is too important to take shortcuts on proposals that could change the character of our region for generations to come.”

Yes, Nassau county might actually have a monument to be recognized by. Some sort of Landmark to identify it. Out in Suffolk, as lame as it is, we have the Big Duck and the Montauk Lighthouse.
“A big structural deficit is a sign of bad management, not bad times.” And as the crowd chanted “Kate, Kate, Kate.” with a departing shot at my blogging brethren and she uttered words that cut me to the quick. “And, BTW, I’m also an Islanders fan.”
Really, Ms. Murray? How many games did you attend last season? I was at about 30 games, I never saw you. Can you tell me who Joel Rechlichz is? I doubt it. Nonetheless, the exclamation drew cheers and applause from the middle-age, upper middle class crowd.
Yes, this is the Republican Party, to which I belong. Suits and ties, khakis and Izod shirts. Other than the veterans by the monument, I saw no other uniforms. The Republicans by their own admission are ready to wage war on the Democrats to keep the ToH a Republican Township in a “sea of fiscal red ink.”
Supposedly, in the ToH, 10% of their tax dollars pay for 90% of their day to day town services. Again, I‘d really love a hyperlink for that. (A side note, Garden City is one of the only villages that have a PAID fire department while the rest of Long Island relies on volunteers to protect them.)

As it was wrapping up, as The Dixie Rascals began to play “Give my Regards to Broadway”, and as my eyes began to glaze over from the rhetoric and speeches, a man interested in talking to anyone who would listen, came to me. He had a lot to say.
“It’s a shame that she has not articulated her viewpoint on the project. It’s a disservice to her town and to the people of Nassau County and Long Island. We are losing our young adults at five times the national average and she doesn’t want to voice her opinion on one of the largest projects on Long Island. She obviously doesn’t know how to negotiate. She’s going to kill a project that would be vital to the Uniondale School district. On top of that, if we lose a major sports franchise in this area, we’ll never get one back. And it’s the Republicans who have been to blame over the course of the last ten years. And they talk about fiscal responsibility. They‘re the party of no ideas.”

Ouch. Sad, but true. My own party has brought us to this point.

I saw Joe Ra talking to Point Blank’s Chris Botta, luckily for him, that stupid banjo music was so loud my recorder didn’t pick up their conversation.

I walked in on Nick Giglia’s conversation with Donald Clavin, ToH Receiver of Taxes, mid sentence. It was rude on my part, but hey, this is journalism.
“It’s going to get to the middle and everyone’s going to be happy.” He was telling Nick and Isles Jersey sporting Joe Conte. The sentence brought out the Brooklyn in me, “Can you get to the middle if you don’t want to hear any body or show up any where?”
Mr. Clavin wanted to bring to light (or media attention) that Kate Murray has called Scott Rechler to reschedule twice. (This is confirmed.) But this does not excuse her from the other meetings she has missed or recused herself from.
“By the way, when the hearings come in, she’s going to be there.” He assured me. However, they cannot schedule the public hearings yet, so who knows if her calendar will be open. “The villages are saying you better make sure this is done right or we are going to potentially sue. There is a process.” he paused before he uttered the line that this time I believed “and I’m an Islander fan, just like you guys. Nobody wants to see the team go, but no one’s going to build this thing without the proper studies. If it was a proper study, why did the Uniondale school district raise concerns?” He looked me square in the eyes, “Are you Dee?”
Busted. “I read your stuff.” Okay, he is an Islander fan, or a well trained employee, or both.
“These are all legal requirements, trust me. Sixty-five-hundred pages, you can’t go through in 45 days. And why did it sit in Nassau County for five years. Give it time, let the public hearing come. You guys come down voice your opinion, let the other residents voice theirs, and I really think something will be done when everybody gets together. But right now, it’s being tossed around like a political football. They did move the initial phase very quickly. You’ve gotta let the process go. A lot of this is out of our hands.” Although Mr. Clavin speaks fast and furious, he closed with “The process won’t choke on this issue because everyone knows it’s important and they want it done properly. And the town is doing a great job of that. And so are you guys.” He was referring to the blogger bunch, but he does feel the fans are only getting one side of the story.
“Don’t think that anyone has come out and stonewalled the project. What they are trying to do is make sure it’s a good fit. Sincerely, I want you guys to know that.” We nodded silently.
“The hearings will come, at the end; I think there will be a happy resolution for everybody.” That sat well with me as I feel he truly believes it, but he also knows the deal “Nobody gets everything they want.”
No, they don’t. But we should get what we need.


TheMetalChick said...

:) Thank you for putting up your take on todays actions. I was still at work but I would have loved to have been there!

Mike Carey and Brian Carey said...

Thanks Dee, this was fantastic. Who knew the best coverage available of a political event would come from a hockey blogger? You put Newsday et. al. to shame on this one.

IslesPassion21 said...

I love what you Chris Botta the young man who writes the Let there Be Ligh(house)blog are doing such important work and I cant say how much I appreciate it and Im sure mant Isles fans are behind everything you guys are doing..

Keep it up, fight the good fight!!!

Lets Go Islanders!!!

BR said...

If Mondello actually said "and they want your jobs," then that is a pretty strong indication that the crowd was dominated by ToH employees.

Does lunch hour start at 1pm at the ToH?

Maybe some people in the crowd were paid to be there, but it sure wasn't the Isles fans/LH supporters...

McCauley's Blog said...

Keep it up Dee!!

The Community Alliance said...

Read, Lies My Town Supervisor Told Me, at The Community Alliance blog.