Monday, January 21, 2008

"Thank You, Kate Murray!"

There's A Louse In The House In Hempstead Town

Talk about breaking one's arm while patting oneself on the back.

Has anyone seen those self-serving cable TV spots, where supposed recipients of the Town of Hempstead's paltry few affordable homes profusely thank Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray for building all of those affordable houses we see in America's largest township?

Must be the trailer for a new comedy series, because but for the paltry few affordable houses built by the Town -- what was it, 9 in 2006 and 11 in 2007? -- the Town hasn't made a dent in the dearth of affordable housing, whether designed for ownership, or rental.

And if, as the Town claims, it has built 200 new homes under its so-called Affordable Homes Program, and renovated some 800 rental apartments (in the Village of Hempstead) -- that's renovated, not created -- the numbers pale in comparison to the dramatically increasing need for affordable housing in Hempstead Town, where affordable homes offered for ownership are few, and affordable rentals are all but nil.

Not to say that anyone else at any level of government is doing more -- or even as much. [Perhaps the feds can send us their FEMA trailers, now that they've been given the okay to remove them from the Gulf Coast.] And not to diminish the efforts of the Town in doing what they've done -- its a laudable beginning. But please, stop using (misusing) public money for TV spots praising the Supervisor for, if we view the ad correctly, what would appear to be single-handedly solving the affordable housing crisis.

Frankly, with blunders such as the mold at Archstone (minus 800 rental units, only 10% of which were affordable, by any definition), and follies like the West Hempstead Urban Renewal Plan, there's not all that much for Kate Murray to boast about on the affordable housing front, and even less for residents to be thankful for.

For every one story conspicuously posted on the Town of Hempstead website highlighting the success of the Affordable Homes Program (Grandmother Burned Out Of House Gets Keys To New Affordable Home), there are hundreds of untold stories of seniors, juniors, and in-betweeners who are forced off of Long Island (some of them into the streets) simply because they have no place they can afford to rent, let alone buy.

Yes, Kate is setting the stage for a run as Nassau County Exec in 2009 [Tom, if you're not our United States Senator by then, Nassau needs you to stay at the helm], showcasing -- at our expense -- what she has done, or what she believes she has done, surrounded by adoring (fearful?) kiss-me-Katers who wouldn't dare tell her otherwise.

Fair enough. We won't blame her for taking credit for what she has done right, whether on making Hempstead Town "greener" (or was that just for those who reside in Levittown?) or making a concerted effort to at least plant the seeds for an affordable housing program, albeit with too few houses, and virtually no rentals. [Apparently, Kate doesn't care much for rental units dotting the suburban landscape. That's too bad. We need them; the economics of the new suburbia demands them; and the revitalization of our aging and decaying downtowns requires them as cornerstones of renewal.]

"We are committed to preserving the suburban character of our neighborhoods while we embrace balanced growth to accommodate young families and seniors who want to live here. Hempstead is also redeveloping downtowns to keep business districts vibrant and guard against urban decay," said Supervisor Murray at her recent recoronation.

Committment is one thing, Kate. Actually getting the job done is quite another.

Perhaps when Charles Theofan -- former Long Beach City Manager, then TOH Commissioner of Planning & Economic Development, and now Long Beach City Manager again -- is succeeded at Town Hall [get your resumes in, Levittowners, the nationwide search is underway], we'll see more of a vision -- one that translates into a reality of affordable places to live for our children, our seniors, our workforce, and for you and I, perhaps -- rather than "blight studies" that translate into big bucks for the developers and special interests.

Until that day, hold the balloons, and can the costly TV spots thanking Kate Murray.
- - -

With the feds giving the tacit nod in favor of a Liquified Natural Gas platform in Long Island Sound, NOW is the time for Governor Spitzer to take a stand against Broadwater.

Click HERE to urge Eliot Spitzer to formally say NO to Broadwater by sending a message to the Governor, courtesy of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, or call Governor Spitzer at 518-474-8390.

The future of Long Island sound calls for a wave of action, not a ripple of silence.

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