[dropcap]E[/dropcap]ach year since 2003 (in fact, the Power List adorned the cover of our very first issue), the staff of the Long Island Press has undertaken the arduous task of trying to rank the 50 most influential people on Long Island.
What exactly is “power,” anyway? The word can mean very different things from person to person. Sure, a millionaire is powerful. But what does he/she actually do with all that money? What about a media mogul? Does monopolizing a region’s main source of information necessarily embody true power? What about lawmakers? Utility operators? Teachers?
The criteria for Power List honorees are fairly straightforward: They must live on Long Island and demonstrate tangible influence over residents’ thoughts or actions. Wealth and notoriety don’t necessarily qualify an individual onto the list, nor does lobbying for inclusion (that actually hurts chances).
This year marks the 12th such compilation, and in commemoration we’ve unveiled a brand new website housing not only this year’s Power List honorees, in their order of ranking, along with a digital edition, but all of the previous years’ lists, as well as the hallowed Power List Hall of Fame—which requires at least five appearances on the Power List for inclusion.
Check Them All Out Here: longislandpress.com/powerlist
This year’s Power List is a curious one, to be sure, as it is a testament to both ingenuity and inertia. There are CEOs. Politicians. Academics. Business owners. Scientists. TV personalities. Advocates. Some are household names; others you may have never heard of before, until now.
Historically, the Power List generates a fair amount of criticism and outrage. The criticism usually comes from a parochial place whereby people believe that we have made stunning omissions based upon their own experiences with people that impact their daily lives. The outrage is generally directed at the preponderance of older white men that appear on the list.
To the latter, we offer the same reply every year: The Power List is a mirror, not a wish list.
Coinciding with the annual list is the yearly Power List celebration gala, unique on Long Island in that it is the only time all of these movers and shakers, typically along with their families and supporting colleagues gather under one roof. Democrats and Republicans. Environmentalists and developers. Millionaires and the “One Percent.”
In addition to having some fun, there is always an overarching message about this idea of power that we try to convey based upon our observations. This year it is about the abuses of power and the devastating consequences of power left unchecked.
The staff of the Long Island Press takes its role as protectors against the abusers of power very seriously. A truly democratic state is a balancing act that requires a strong and independent press, a just legal and law enforcement system, a strong educational system and a fait and robust economic environment that provides equal participatory opportunities for every member of society.
Therefore, as much as we are honored to perform our role in this equation, we continually challenge ourselves to do more and hope that those on this list will do the same. And of course, inclusion on this list in no way excludes its honorees from a good old-fashioned Press takedown.
So peruse the new Power List website. Learn about its members. Get to know them. Chances are, they’ve impacted and influenced your world in more way than one.