I think the most annoying thing about the press conference yesterday was the media, who seemed to be present in higher numbers than the union, politicos, and fans. Many of them stopped by the handful of Isles fans telling them: “Congratulations, you got your arena!” Ummm, not quite.
Clearly most of the media is just plain ignorant of what is really going on here.
Even those who are a bit clearer on the roadblocks and speedbumps seem to be dismissal of potential problems. To me, this strikes me as foolish, naive, and just plain in denial to the realities of the political process on Long Island.
Soon after, in the afternoon, I received an email from my query to NIFA, the governor assigned watchdog to all of Nassau County’s fiscal process with a very clear warning that went against the talk of Ed Mangano, Kate Murray and Charles Wang. Nobody had bothered to loop in the watchdog who has the final say on permission for any bond or coliseum deal here.
“NIFA is deeply concerned about the County Executive’s proposal and its fiscal implications for the County. There was no consultation with NIFA regarding this major proposal announced today. During the control period, greater coordination is warranted.NIFA’s approval is required for all County borrowing, including the $400 million in new debt proposed today, and for all major contracts.
As we await necessary information from the County regarding the 2011 and 2012 budgets, NIFA requires details of this new plan, which must be evaluated in the context of the County’s fiscal crisis, the wage freeze on County employees and the reductions in services to County residents
This is unsurprising to those who have followed the Ed Mangano dealings, which seem to fly on the seat of their pants and to be lacking any details. The problem with yesterday’s press conference and promises is the usual vague planning, murk, and just plain lack of details to what exactly is going to happen, and above all, a lack of knowledge on how to kickoff the process so that it actually goes through. It doesn’t give me a warm and fuzzy, and it shouldn’t for you, fellow Islander fans, either.
This is a huge gaffe by the Mangano camp and all involved. Here is your big day of PR, and already, within a few hours, a problem has already hit the mix and now leads the news.
I sat listening to yesterdays press conference with a heaping load of questions to their planning. One large one was mentioned by me on twitter yesterday:
“A big unmentioned player to all of this is “Nassau Interim Finance Authority” who must approve Nassau County deals and such”
“Democrats and NIFA are the roadblocks here IF either choose to throw themselves against the ire of sports fans”
On Mangano/Wang not getting approval from NIFA, a source says: “have to wait for the vote. And if it approves, you think NIFA would turn it down? Can you think of the anger they would get and the pressure the gov would feel?”
Well, I’m just not convinced here. Especially when some Democrats are already complaining about why are taxpayers having to float a bond when originally Charles Wang was offering to pay for the whole thing privately with the Lighthouse Project? It’s a question of course that is valid, but fails to note that the Town of Hempstead clearly killed that plan, and came up with their own tinier plan…to which Charles refused to compromise or even work out some sort of compromise process. So clearly, when both sides fail to meet, it is dead.
The problem is that the elections in November have a lot on the line, including an opponent to Kate Murray already using yesterdays press conference as a political point, calling the Coliseum deal a “poison pill”. The politicization of the Coliseum Referendum is a potential nightmare if it becomes a focal point to the power struggle between Long Island Democrats and Republicans. Democrats, who I might add, were onboard the Coliseum plans until Suozzi was toppled, and then faded into the woodwork. Democrats who once source said were told to stay away, as another source mentioned others were not invited, to yesterdays presser. Thus, Mangano’s group also now made it a Republican event between them and the ToH, as if purposely trying to exacerbate the issue into political drama.
Political drama will turn this process and Islander fans, who have sat being pulled along like a yo-yo to all sorts of antics, inside out. It isn’t fair, and there seems to be a lack of forethought, tact, and finesse by all parties when it counts most…. as we saw last time between Charles and the Lighthouse Project versus the ToH back two years ago.
A source on the Republican side of the aisle thinks that if referendum passes, NIFA will be unwilling to deepsix it due to jobs created. I still remain unconvinced when it is a Democrat Gov who really controls the NIFA group against a Republican run Long Island. To me, this is kids playing with matches in a room of TNT, with them assuring us, it’s ok. I’m not buying it.
Just as am not buying it is going to happen until all those involved get a clue and actually show some ability to finish what they started. I am still not even convinced that $350 million, that gets allocated to build a NEW venue, is enough in this day and age where labor and building materials are sky high in cost in one of the most expensive places to do business in the United States.
So, call me more than skeptical, concerned, and just plain unconvinced. I remain open to be swayed and hope it works out. But, anyone who thinks this is a done deal or a clear path is just plain fooling themselves.
For the Referendum itself, I think that vote will go YES. Fans, the Republican machine and unions will vote for it, and take advantage of what will be a minuscule vote turnout on August 1st. But that is not the issue. The referendum is useless if NIFA does not approve the bond.
If we look at Mangano’s track record so far as Exec, he has stated that he will balance the budget….and failed. He stated that he will win in a lawsuit against NIFA, and failed. He even said he was going to cut patronage positions…still waiting there. So I am not quite going to buy that this is a done deal by a longshot.
There is also another issue… how does a team that loses anywhere from $20 to 40 million annually expect to suddenly cut a profit and pay the County their share of that $350 million dollars???? Hey, I’m not just going to be the one guy asking this question. Others are already wondering the same.
About the Author: B.D. Gallof is a published writer and hockey blogger. He writes about Hockey, NY Islanders & the NY Islanders venue situation for CBS New York. BD has been written up in Sports Illustrated, TSN.ca, the NY Times Slapshots blog, Yahoo's Sports and SportsBusiness Journal. He has been a featured blogger for The Huffington Post, as well as owner, lead writer, and managing editor at HockeyIndependent.com.