Quid pro quo, Clarice: Lighthouse zoning hearing on day of K.C. game

Lhp-winter_medium Sorry for the gratuitous (and not exactly analogous) "Silence of the Lambs" reference, but it's a fine movie, and every time two parties are carefully, strategically jousting, I hear the behind-bars-glass Hannibal Lecter's voice as he leverages the one hand he has into getting what he wants out of Clarice Starling.

As you may have noticed, pending approval Sept. 8, the Town of Hempstead finally scheduled zoning hearings for the Lighthouse project. (Quoth the LDG's Katrina: "It took the Town 27 days to schedule the date. Take from that what you will.")

Also take from that the fact it took them 27 days to schedule it on the same night as the Islanders pre-season game in Kansas City (I'll be there), a game Charles Wang intend(ed?) to attend. Who knows? Maybe he still will.

I've thought about this off-and-on today. First reaction is that it pisses me off (particularly if it could have been scheduled earlier, yet the Town wanted to wait just to get this political jab in). Second reaction is that it's political fair play. The Islanders game in K.C. is a symbolic shot across the bow; this scheduling gambit by Kate Murray & Co. is turnabout.

Unfortunately, this process has long since been politicized. Wang has certainly played his part in politicizing it -- from drumbeats to rallies to the K.C. game itself -- but I'd argue that the only reason he's done that is because not politicizing it wasn't working. This was the only route that actually got the mind-numbing bureaucratic process moving. He had no other choice. (It's amazing to me now, to think that the end of the Nassau Coliseum is in sight and we still have no resolution, when for most of my life that lease has felt like an interminable sentence.)

So now, Wang has a decision for Sept. 22: On that day, while the Islanders are playing a preseason game that effectively says, "You know, we can find another home," the Town will be considering zoning for the project and ready to throw out the question, "Is he even committed to being here?" -- even though the question is absurd, given what he's done and pledged to do just that.

And while practically speaking, it shouldn't make a difference where he is that night -- he could even conceivably attend the early hearings and then fly to K.C. -- this process has repeatedly ventured away from practical and into the political. Wang has put his cards out there for a while -- it's his right to pursue other avenues. But despite that right, the political factors mean he has a tough decision to make. And if he chooses his prior commitment, I'm sure the Town will be all too happy to use it as a talking point; just part of the simplified warfare that typifies politics.

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