Backchecking: Don’t Take Your Opponent Lightly

As someone who spent time in politics — it should be communicated to Charles Wang and the power brokers for the arena deal — if they think they can “sit on the sidelines” in a similar way that they did with the Lighthouse, they are going to lose big on August 1. If they believe they have this vote “in the bag” they are going to be crushed on August 1. If they think it will all work itself out and don’t need to work 24 hours a day from now until August 1, they are going to be looking for a new home in 2015 for sure.

And it is not just about August 1. It has to be about more then the people vote — which ultimately has little power. The purpose of August one is really to communicate to County Legislators that WE THE PEOPLE want this deal.

I will of course be voting to support the project. But, I am very concerned that Charles Wang and the Islanders are not taking the threat of the opposition of the arena deal very seriously. And when I see articles in the paper — where “…Charles Wang could not be reached for comment…” it becomes even more concerning. As with the Lighthouse Project, I can’t help but feel that his silence is a problem. If you allow your opponent all of the space, all of the time and all of the media resources as you stay quiet, then your opponent will define the argument. And that is exactly what is happening here — again. In the vacuum of information and details as well as the lack of push back from Wang, the opponents are making all of the news, all of the noise, and they are using the argument of a tax hike as a successful weapon to beat this deal big time!

The only solace is that the opposition decided to use a Friday to make their first big public push at LIRR stations. Reports are that they handed out fliers with a ‘Vote No” and an “X” through the Islander logo. I believe that was a mistake. Friday is “Take out the Trash” day. People are thinking about weekend plans on Fridays. Monday’s are the best days in my opinion because people reconnect with the news, and it can be a great opportunity for the proponents to make a stand on Monday, and try to control the news cycle for a few days. For a change, the Islanders and their proponents need to put “boots on the ground”

As a died in the wool Democrat, I am disappointed and frustrated by Jay Jacobs most recent remarks about the coming vote, and he is obviously rallying his caucus of legislators to vote NO when it comes to the legislature should the referendum pass. Much like the Suozzi years, the party on the “outside” is voting NO. During the last administration we saw Democrats in favor of the Lighthouse Project and Republicans against it. Typical.
As such, a strategy is needed. A plan to combat the  powers trying to derail this project. To me, there is nothing better then a door-to-door effort. It is better then a TV campaign, and better then just handing out leaflets. It shows someone is taking the time to come to see you and knock on your door. People like to be asked for support and assistance. Therefore, the strategy is simple.

The Islanders should run a door-to-door campaign in districts that are represented by DEMOCRATS first and foremost.
The mission should be do two things.
1) The person knocking on the door needs to have a clear message of why this plan can help the County.
2) The voter should be asked if he/she/they will be voting and if they are supporting the plan.

If they are against the plan, it has to be noted. That person should NOT be part of the Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) effort. If the voter is planning on voting, and is identified as a supporter, that is someone who you need to push hard on to get them to the polls. Calls should be made reminding them to vote on July 31.

The idea here should be to get heaviest support for the deal in areas that are represented by the Democratic legislators. Therefore, if the vote on August 1 passes, it puts pressure on the legislators to vote for the plan breaking ranks with the caucus and pushing the supermajority through as needed. Ultimately the vote August 1 is the first hurdle, but the supermajority vote is equally critical, and fundamentally trumps the people’s vote should they vote in favor of the project.

Of course all of the districts within the County should be visited. But my thought process here is that support where there are Democratic legislators are poised to try and kill the project when the time comes to approve the vote with a supermajority, they will have to give much consideration to what will hopefully be overwhelming support within their districts for the bond to pass.

If there is any assumption that the opposition is weak, or disorganized, or just a handful of noisy people, the Islanders and its fans will lose, and lose big. The moment you underestimate you opponent, you will see yourself on the losing side of any battle. We can ask Tom Suozzi about that.

I am not a fan of this project from Ed Mangano & Co.. I want to be clear about that. I think its a crappy deal for all of us as citizens and taxpayers. The part that is most frustrating is that Charles Wang & Co. would have financed the Lighthouse without spending a single public dollar and Hempstead said no — in effect saying they would rather use taxpayer funds to build a new arena. That is the ultimate shame in this entire debacle. What is more troubling is that the vote is a tough sell. Opponents are correctly challenging the proposal as tax hike. In a time where people feel taxes are already too high, and where the County has been taken over by NIFA, it is an uphill battle to convince them to pay $58 more per year in taxes for a hockey team. Sure — to us — its worth it, because we love our Islanders. But to Joe and Jane Jones who have never been to a hockey game, they could care less.

There are great many questions and doubts I have about the deal. But at the same time, there are always going to be questions, and doubts. Nonetheless — the Islanders trump all politics for me. I want to see the team succeed, and I want to see a new arena done so the discussion on these blogs can be about hockey.

I urge all of us to spread the word. If nothing else, every Islander fan must take the 5 minutes out of his or her day to go to the polls to support this proposal or we risk losing the franchise.

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Filed Under: New York Islanders


About the Author: A graphic designer who loves the game....and knows that age has slowed him down — but the passion is there. Islanders fan since the 70s, Dad, Husband and Coach of the Flying Tiger's Email: Twitter:

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  1. RobJ74 says:

    Looks like the dems are underestimating the proponents…Saying they dont even need to campaign against it because they wont win the vote anyway…Its a waste of time…Sounds like the dems have done this type of thing before…Suozzi didnt feel the need to campaign because he thought he had it in the bag…He lost…I hope the Wangano and comppany can use this as fuel

    • HyeDray says:

      There is no question the Dems are “soft” when it comes to campaigning. I say that as a life long Democrat. It was part of the reason President Obama’s camapign was such an eye-opener. Put aside whether you like him or not — the campaign was supremely organized, active and powerfully executed. Lots of hard work that involved a door-to-door effort. I know because I was one of the people who drove to Pennsylvania to campaign for him, and I saw first hand the depth and scope of the campaign. It was quite amazing and a huge reason why he is in the Oval Office!

      But at the same time, Suozzi, and another “local” Democrat — John Corzine — thought they had election all sewn up. That is the quickest way to defeat. Republican’s tend to operate differently. They tend to “go at” everything. I may not agree with their views, but they tend to run better, more aggressive campaigns overall. They are more of a “hard ball” group.

      I believe the August 1 vote is in jeopardy. Jay Jacobs is no fool. I am completely sure he has been polling on the issue and his numbers may be showing that the referendum’s passage is in serious doubt. It could be inside of 10 percentage points — but it is still on the losing side — MAYBE.

      And even if polling says it will pass with the people, it won’t matter. He has pretty much announced that his legislative caucus will vote as a block — which could be one of three things.

      1) He knows the referendum will pass and that he has the votes to prevent the required super majority.

      2) He knows the referendum will fail and he does not have to expend dollars or energy fighting it.

      3) He knows the vote is going to be very close and could go either way — so by saying he is going to “kill it” when it reaches the legislature could be a political tactic to suppress voter turnout. Voters may now think, “well…if it has no hope of passing through the County Legislature, why should I bother to vote?”

      This is why I am so disappointed with the effort thus far. The silence for the proponents is deafening. The only thing we are hearing is that this is a tax hike, and there is little benefit to the County. The proponents are behind already. They should have been out front with the positives day, after day, after day from the time they announced the proposal, to August 1.

      For this referendum to pass, I believe a serious on-the-ground Obama-esque campaign is required. Hell, I would have the players (present and former) and coaches knocking on doors, getting people out to vote, and signing autographs. I would do everything to use every single warm body to drive home key points of the project, and if needed, drive people to the polls on August 1.

      The issue is not the easiest sell. Lets not kid ourselves. As I pointed out, its a tax hike — $58 is a lot of money to some and they are also looking at this as an $800 million cost after the 30 years is complete.

      My concern is that the bulk of the voters who turn out are going to be 55 years old and up. This is critical because those voters are either staring down the barrel of retirement or are retired and on fixed income. So when someone says “oh…well…its ONLY $58.00…” They are not looking at it from the perspective of someone who views that $58 as the difference between being able to shop for food, or buy the medicine they need for that month.

      One more key point — those who are 55 + tend to be the ones who vote. They are what we call in the politics business “PRIME” voters. Because they vote for EVERYTHING…from fire chief to school budgets to votes on special referendums.

      • RobJ74 says:

        Jay Jacobs is a a self serving magot for how hes behaved…Hes literally saying that if the people do want this he will try and stop it anyway…Is that serving the people???I hate that SOB for his presumptions…Hes so arrogant…Why isnt anyone else from NIFA saying shit???Its not right..

        I agree 100% about Wang and the Isles need to campaign hard for this to happen…They should’ve been doing this since the announcement, like u said….They should’ve been pounding the pavement BEFORE the registration period…What good will it do to persuade people unless they are registered???

        Im so nervous

        • HyeDray says:

          Call me a pessimist Rob — but I am very concerned about the passage of the referendum at all. It has been handled very poorly from the beginning.

          Even the announcement was botched.

          In this day and age — people have access to information, and reporters are going to dig for anything that is controversial and that can “sell” the news.

          Look at how the announcement was rolled out. INCOMPLETE.

          By incomplete I mean that Mangano and Wang had not even bothered to present much of the details of the deal. It felt and sounded RUSHED from the outset. Then, when they began to hear and see the push back from various groups, and the press began to raise questions about the validity of the vote, the value of the deal…suddenly they were required to release details.

          That is not a good, strong roll out.

          Now keep in mind — I am supporting this thing. I am going to vote for it, and so is my family — my parents as well. But to a man, woman and voting adult — every fan who is voting for it, has said the same thing to me… we are getting screwed.

          Our motivation is based on the love of the game, and our team.

          And again — will we see push back from proponents of the project tomorrow (Monday) which would be a key day after the roll out from the opposition on Friday.

          In addition — where is Kate Murray? Where is Joe Mondello? This was EXACTLY what they wanted from the outset — a stand-alone arena. In fact, Murray had said time and time again that she would have approved a stand-alone arena years ago, and the Islanders could have had it 1-2-3…well…is she using her efforts to now support it?

          Between Wang and the Islanders, Mangano, Murray, Mondello and the Unions it is so quiet, you could hear a rat taking a piss on cotton (as my good friend would say….) Which means those opposing this project WIN!

          I hope I am wrong. I hope tomorrow morning reports are that there are posters, leaflets being handed out, a rally scheduled and a $2,000,000 ad buy on TV and radio as well as a door to door effort kicked off — anything short of that — I have a feeling I will be making a very uncomfortable and disheartening blog post on Aug 2!

          • RobJ74 says:

            I complained about this subject on Islanders facebook page and i got a response…They basically asked me to hang in there and that we will be seeing a BIG media push this week…