UPDATED at 5:00 pm – Here’s the David Paterson press release.
1:00 pm - You can read all the platitudes from today’s Lighthouse press conference with Governor David Paterson in plenty of other places. Here’s what you need to know.
When it was all over – the jockeying for prime photo ops with the Guv, the arms around Charles Wang from those pretending they were always in support of the project, the well-crafted soundbites – one of those politicans threw his arm around this blogger and said the following:
The momentum has now officially shifted. The Lighthouse is going to get approved, at least enough of it to make the developers happy. I’ll tell you why. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be so many politicians and operatives here. That’s how it works in politics. Everyone here today wants to be on the right side of history.
He may be right.
Some highlights from the Paterson event…
- The Governor, raised in Hempstead, recalled a pair of childhood experiences at the Coliseum. He said that after the New York Nets traded Julius Erving in 1976, he went to a game and cursed at owner Roy Boe for an hour. Paterson said he went to an Islanders game in the ’70s. “There weren’t many African-American fans there,” he said. “A lot of people asked us where their seats were.”
- Paterson jokes a lot, but the best comedy is when there is some truth in the humor. County Executive Tom Suozzi gave another passionate, eloquent speech this morning about the need for the Lighthouse. As he often does, Suozzi cited Suffolk’s significant edge in economic development over Nassau this decade. When he was done, Paterson said, “Tom is a great executive for Nassau, and a great public relations man for Suffolk.” Paterson praised Suozzi for his economic leadership, saying when the Executive took over, “Nassau owed more money than 37 states.”
- Kate Murray used the majority of her time at the podium properly – to plug the August 4 public hearing at Hofstra University. She said her staff is “keenly focused on progressive development” and that she “understands something needs to be built on the HUB.” Then the Supervisor added her qualifiers about doing the right thing. That’s completely fair. We’ll know soon enough.
- Paterson on Wang’s October 3 deadline: “Charles is negotiating. My hope is that by October 3 Charles will be one happy owner.” Pointing out the $4 billion pricetag, 40,000 construction jobs, 19,000 permanent jobs upon completion and huge tax revenues, the Governor called the Lighthouse Project, “The most significant economic initiative to see Long Island in a long time.”
Among those in attendance: politicians Carolyn McCarthy, Kemp Hannon, Brian Foley, Craig Johnson, Robert Barra, Rob Walker, Michelle Schimel, Charles Lavine, Kevan Abrahams and Dorothy Goosby, Islanders GM Garth Snow and Hall of Famer Mike Bossy.
When the public event was over, staffers from Newsday were ushered into the arena for a private audience with the leading politicians and developers. Maybe Long Island’s newspaper will get some additional tidbits the rest of the audience did not.
Kate Murray is starring in a new two-part You Tube video where she discusses the Lighthouse. Catch Part I and Part 2. The view of Newsday and some bloggers and Tweeters is that the vids are evidence Murray is coming around on this Lighthouse thing. I’m not entirely sure the proof is in the production of a PR piece.
The Murray interview is conducted by her own spokeman, Michael Deery. Let me ask you something. If in my old job, I sat down with Garth Snow for a 15-minute rehearsed Q&A on the state of the Islanders, would it have any credibility? Of course not.
The Hempstead Town Supervisor might mean well. Clearly, over the last few months she has taken a wiser, more leader-like approach to her stewardship of the Town’s piece of the project. (Again, has anyone heard from Kristen McElroy? Anyone?). It’s just tough to buy her You Tube appearance – written, choreographed and directed by Michael Bennett Deery – as the real thing.
Why not, for example, give a lengthy interview with News 12? Why not with Newsday? I mean, of course without writing the questions for them.
On the other hand, Murray’s performance received two thumbs up from a political expert whose opinions I trust:
I thought Murray did well by the Lighthouse Project with that video. Think about it: the Governor supports it, Charles Schumer supports it, the County Executive supports it. Islanders fans obviously have spoken loud and clear. The unions are fanatical about it. The press has not come out against it in any meaningful way.
Look wherever you want – it’s hard to find any major objection to the development. I guess we’ll see what happens August 4 with the public hearing. But I think it’s possible the Supervisor and her advisors looked around and decided to join the crowd. She’ll win her election in a landslide, but she doesn’t want to come off as the lone dissenting voice.
We’ll know one way or the other before October 3. See you August 4.
Comments on this story and the Lighthouse Project.