New legislation may bar Nassau officials’ names from county-owned signs

New legislation may bar Nassau officials’ names from county-owned signs
The stage at Eisenhower Park displays a sign that states the concert has been cancelled. On the rear of the stage are the two signs for Blakeman and Chapin. (Photo courtesy of Nassau County Legislature, Minority Caucus)

The names of county officials may be removed and barred from county signs and properties in the future after Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan (D–Woodbury) presented legislation to prohibit the practice on Aug. 21.

Lafazan said this would save taxpayers money by redirecting the funds required to update hundreds of signs every time a new official is elected into office to other “more worthwhile endeavors.”

“There is simply no justification for wasting taxpayer dollars and the labor of Nassau County’s skilled workforce to perpetuate such a brazen form of taxpayer-funded self-promotion,” Lafazan said. “In a day and age in which all of the vital information about our elected officials is right at our fingertips, it’s long past time to remove any semblance of politicking from our county-owned public spaces by ending this practice once and for all.”

The legislation, if passed, would require the removal of county officials’ names from all signs and property, including but not limited to portable “showmobile” stages, within 60 days of its enactment.

If the legislation is enacted, then the names of current and future county officials will be barred from being added to county-owned signage and properties. An exception will be made for purposes of honoring a county official, such as a park memorial dedication.

The legislation comes in the wake of backlash against large signs affixed with County Executive Bruce Blakeman’s name at the ‘Just Wild About Harry’ Tribute Concert at Eisenhower Park, which ultimately led to organizers canceling the show. The show was scheduled for Aug. 28, after already being rained out, and has yet to be rescheduled.

Multiple signs were posted at the venue of Eisenhower Park for both Blakeman and Chapin, which is typical for the event, but concert organizers have complained about the size of Blakeman’s signs that are much larger than Chapin’s.

Concert organizer Stuart Markus said many individuals involved in the tribute concert, most notably the concert co-organizers, expressed “deep revulsion and consternation” about the large signs with Blakeman’s name, believing he was making the event more about him than Chapin.

“What I, the co-organizers and the majority of musicians have a problem with is Mr. Blakeman’s turning the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre – a publicly owned facility – into an advertising platform for himself and his future election campaigns,” Markus said.

While the legislation was proposed by Lafazan a week prior to the concert dispute, it was amended after the fact to add a provision for the Nassau County Department of Public Works and Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums to immediately accommodate requests from vendors to remove signage from county signs and properties prior to the 60-day deadline.

“Harry Chapin’s mission was all about feeding the hungry,” Lafazan said. “County Executive Blakeman, on the other hand, has proven time and again that he is all about feeding his own ego. It’s time to get our priorities back in order here in Nassau County.”

The legislation, which is co-sponsored by the unified Minority Caucus, would reinstate a policy enacted by the administration of former Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

The policy was reversed in 2022 by Blakeman after he assumed office. This resulted in numerous signs being updated with the county executive’s name, including the ones at the the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre in Eisenhower Park.

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