Charles Wang's on-the-fly TV appearance on Saturday was not without an agenda. Point Blank has learned from political operatives and media insiders that the Town of Hempstead is preparing to release unflattering details about Lighthouse negotiations to some of its media favorites.
Wang may have acted surprised and faux-annoyed when Howie Rose asked him about the Lighthouse Project, but something must be understood. A major league sports team owner does not hastily request an interview on his team's broadcast, and then go on live TV without knowing what will be asked. (Worth noting: Wang did not speak with any other reporters in the press box - those he does not have some control over - just his friendly broadcast rightsholder).
Wang knew the interview would be about the state of his team's rebuilding project and the Lighthouse Project. For anyone to pretend otherwise - even as Wang told Rose, "I thought we weren't talking about this" and "You shouldn't be asking me this" - is foolish.
(Another mistake: the Islanders' telecast was not shown on MSG, MSG Plus or even MSG Plus 2. Buried on a channel so deep that even a former team PR director took a half-hour to find it, the broadcast featuring Wang was probably seen by the team's smallest television audience of the season).
In the interview, the Islanders owner said there have been no discussions with the Town of Hempstead since a public hearing in September. He also said he did not know if Ed Mangano supports the project because there haven't been any talks with the new Nassau County Executive.
As documented by reporters and bloggers since September, the Lighthouse has not paid Town consultant FP Clark and communication has been primarily non-existent between the developers and the Town.
Since I'm not on the Christmas card list of Hempstead honchos Kate Murray, Joe Ra or Mike Deery, I will not get their talking points and will gladly sit out the Hempstead affair.
I spoke with a high-ranking County official late Saturday night who argued that Wang is misleading Islanders fans by saying he hasn't heard from Nassau. "The County Executive has reached out to Wang and has not had his calls returned," said the source. Following Wang's edict for a media blackout on the future of the Islanders in Nassau or anywhere else, Lighthouse officials did not return my calls seeking comment.
If the Town of Hempstead was looking for a wise PR time to fire back, it has arrived now that the Islanders' recent positive momentum has been derailed by a depressing seven-game losing streak. The life of an Islanders fan is never easy.
If there's any good news in all of this, the darts expected to be thrown by Hempstead - and possibly returned by the LDC - sure beat the silence. Although the pacifist Islanders have engaged in as many on-ice fights in the last two months as Brandon Prust did last night (two), the gloves are coming off in the battle for the Lighthouse Project.
Even to the most casual observer it has been apparent for a long time that the developers are not going to get close to 100% of their massive project. They have their options - Queens, Brooklyn - but have been curiously hesitant to pursue them. To be sure, and with no pun intended, the next move is Wang's.
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