The process of selecting honorees for the Power List is so highly secretive even the NSA doesn’t know who’s on it until it comes out. Okay, that’s probably not true. The point is we typically play it pretty close to the vest.
The Power List issue has particular meaning to the Press staff as it was actually our debut issue in 2003. Although we began publishing bi-weekly as The Island Ear in 2002, the Power List in January of 2003 was our official start in the alternative publishing world. From the beginning we sought to identify the people who impacted life on Long Island and shaped its image. From our first introductory editorial in 2003:
“We were looking for more than mere celebrity or financial clout. We wanted those who made the most of their resources, whatever those resources were. We tended to reject those who held big titles but used them to little effect… We insisted on real Long Islanders, not pseudo-Islanders with country homes in the Hamptons.”
The original list included lesser-known figures like independent music promoter Christian McKnight and DOT acting director Tom Oelerich, alongside highly visible and prominent leaders such as former Senator Alfonse D’Amato and New York Islanders owner Charles Wang. Topping the list that year (as his son James would in later years) was Cablevision founder Charles Dolan. And even though Robert Moses was deceased for more than two decades, we even put him on the list. (We have since revised this policy. Only the living may appear.)
Our strategy hasn’t changed much, and—for better or for worse—neither has many of the names. Therefore, in order to prevent the list from becoming stale with perennial “Power Listers,” we created the Power List Hall of Fame for individuals who made the list five times. It’s like raising a star athlete’s jersey to the rafters. But instead of a jersey, we commission a caricature likeness of this individual that is sometimes flattering and sometimes, well, not so much.
Coming into this year, however, we faced a problem. There were so many Power List Hall of Famers continuing to expand his or her influence that it has grown increasingly difficult to exclude them. After many intense negotiations, (i.e. a couple of beers) the Press decided upon a significant rule change. From this point forward Hall of Famers will once again be considered for selection among their peers with the exception of those who are being inducted within the year.
It’s important to understand when considering this list as a whole that it is not a wish list but a mirror. Every year we point out that the list is predominantly filled with white men. Once again, 2013 offers no exception.
It is, however, interesting to note that the composition of this year’s list might be looked at as somewhat of a bellwether with respect to our economy. There is broad representation of the healthcare field from research and technology to hospitals and advocacy. As usual, there are far too many political people on the list and still more who are likely incredulous that they were not included. But this too is a reflection of Long Island, a place where politics is inseparable from daily life.
Lastly, a note on our editorial prerogative. Every year there are a few people who had the power to inspire this newspaper. Take, for example, Andy Stepanian, who embodies activism and speaks truth to power so softly it humbles the most outspoken among us. Or Gerard Depascale and Liam Neville, who took on a giant to shine light in the darkness and clear a path for others to follow. They lost their battle but won our hearts. Theirs are the stories we ache to tell throughout the year and we thank them for allowing us to do so.
For all those who are reading this issue and wondering whether or not your name will ever appear on the Power List, a few words to the wise: Those who lobby for inclusion on the list never make it. (We’re petty like that.) Also, substance wins over style.
Enjoy the list.
Long Island Press Publisher