Saturday, July 30, 2011

Jacobs to Nassau: Drop Dead

Hi everyone, let's leave the robots aside and move on to more important things.

Contest is Off

Our Rock the Referendum contest needs to be cancelled because of some persistent complaints that it violates New York State election law.  I maintain it doesn't, but rather than risk very serious repercussions (or a BS lawsuit, perhaps), we've decided to shut it down.  I am at least as upset, if not more, than anyone else, but this should not distract from our very real need to get people out there to the polls.

We're in the home stretch, and the persistent smear-mongering and misinformation campaign led by the 2 Stooges, Jay Jacobs and Desmond Ryan, has helped put us in a precarious spot.  Please remember, every vote counts.

Radio Appearance

I was a guest with Chris Muldoon on 90.3 FM Thursday evening, and you can listen here if you didn't have a chance to that night.  We talk for almost an hour about many issues related to the referendum.  Really enjoyed it and Chris, and I hope you enjoy our chat.

Fun With Facebook

Today's episode of Fun With Facebook: "Shockingly Out Of Touch," with 2 very special guest stars....

I RSVP'ed to Ed Mangano's Facebook invitation to Vote Yes on Monday, and I saw something that legitimately shocked me....a message to "VOTE NO1" - from none other than Town of Hempstead Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby.

That's right, the woman who stood idly by while Kate Murray hemmed, hawed, and stalled for 6 years before murdering the Lighthouse, who is as responsible as anyone that we're now in the position of this referendum, now wants you to vote no.  How about we tell her how we feel?

Then, just when I thought it couldn't get any more shocking, it did.  The Association for a Better Long Island, better described as the Association for a Better Association for a Better Long Island, truly shocked me.  This organization has been the biggest source of vitriol and misinformation not named Jay Jacobs in this campaign, and their comment is truly a sight to behold.

That's right, the group already whining to NIFA and anyone else who will listen now accuses the Yes side of planning to intimidate voters on Monday.  It would be funny if it wasn't so sad and shocking.

I'd say hold these people accountable, and we should, but the best way to do that is at the ballot box.

Jay Jacobs Continues to Dig the Hole

Jay Jacobs, he of the embarrassing performance on Mike Francesa, sent out another letter on Thursday night to registered Democrats in Nassau County.  Here is a link to the unedited letter that B.D. Gallof was helpful enough to post on TweetDeck, and I've decided to perform a line by line rebuttal.

We now join the Nassau County and New York State Democratic Party chairman, already in progress....

By Jay JacobsNassau County Democratic Chairman

Wow, are we living in Backwards Land?  Vote No and the thing we want to happen happens?

We all want a new Coliseum. We all want to keep the Islanders. We all want to see more jobs and ensure that Nassau County grows and prospers. Charles Wang’s latest Coliseum plan – shifting the cost, debt and guarantees to Nassau taxpayers is just, in simple terms, a bad deal. 
There have been a host of studies, statistics and numbers thrown about, revised and then re-revised. The bottom line is simple: If the deal is as good as Charles Wang and County Executive Ed Mangano are telling us in their sales pitch, then why isn’t Charles Wang borrowing the money himself?
I see what Mr. Jacobs did here - he's deliberately trying to perform some misdirection because the "host of studies, statistics, and numbers," including Martin Cantor's report, which analyzed 3 scenarios and claimed the County would make money even under the most conservative scenario, don't say what Mr. Jacobs wants to hear.  In fact, Mr. Cantor's report says that every dollar spent on the areener project will generate $1.46 in economic activity for Nassau County!  

Which one, then?  Is it the Camoin Associates report?  The Comptroller's Report? The non-partisan OLBR? Oh wait, they all say it's a good deal (albeit with some suggested changes that I support)

Therefore, Mr. Jacobs has now decided to turn this around on former ally Charles Wang (only when the Democrats were in power) and ask why he doesn't build a building he doesn't own with no collateral by himself.  Nice sleight of hand...Nassau County owns this building, and he is now asking for the tenant to bail out the landlord's decades of mismanagement and political gridlock that have led us to this place.  

But oh wait, Jacobs doubles down.....

And that’s the simple answer to the whole problem. Nassau County should sell the Coliseum property to Charles Wang. The County should retain the remainder of the 77-acre site for future development. Until the development is finalized and approved, the Coliseum would have use of the land for parking. A part of any development deal would require the expenditure of $135 million to build the 6800 space multi-story parking lot, freeing up the remaining land. 
With Wang as the owner of the site, he is then free to build the Coliseum he wants. He would own the asset and could sell it if he chooses – with or without the team. So, how would he pay for it? The way everyone else who buys a home or a business does. He would put down 25% of the total price and go to a bank for the rest – preferably Long Island-based banks.
Wow, what a sweetheart deal for Nassau County, especially the person who will get over $100 million to build a parking garage.  The arena that has been neglected for 40 years will be sold.  Therefore, Charles Wang has to pay for the cost of purchasing the building, the cost of demolishing the building, and the cost of a new building, all while Nassau County gets to keep the surrounding land to do whatever it sees fit.

This might actually sound reasonable on the surface, but again, Mr. Wang is a TENANT.  His solution to Nassau County abdicating its responsibilities as a landlord is a further abdication that puts the man who might benefit least from it in the position of paying for all of it.

(Remember, the revenue sharing deal says the County gets 11.5%, but, for all you New York Post and Daily News editorial writers, that's 11.5% of total revenue, regardless of the profit Wang does or does not make).

Assuming the construction costs of $350 million, the costs of borrowing and some payment to the County for the value of the land (as a requirement of the purchase the existing building would be demolished so it should have no value in the transaction), the total package would be $400 million. Wang would have to come up with $100 million in cash.

Mr. Jacobs can do math.  Bravo.

Without a billionaire’s money, Wang could fund it himself, put together an investment group or combine those ideas with the use of PSLs for ticket-holders similar to what the Jets and the Giants did to help construct their stadium. Now, PSLs are unpopular because no ticket holder wants to pay them. I’m a Giants season ticket holder and I didn’t like it either. I also recognize that the NHL is not the NFL. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a PSL program. It means you can’t charge anywhere near what the Jets or the Giants charged for their season ticket holder seats.
As an example: where the low-end PSL for Giants seats was $5000, if the Islanders charged $5000 a seat for their BEST seats and just $1500 for their least desirable seats, they could bring in between $25 and $50 million for the 17,500 seats and 51 luxury boxes. The PSLs could be paid in installments over 3 years and PSL holders could be offered discounts on non-Islander events held at the new Coliseum. Paid over 3 years, with 41 games, an Islander ticket-holder would pay about $12 more per seat per game for just 3 years – and they would have the PSL asset to sell once they give up their seats – hopefully at a profit depending upon the team’s performance.

I can't believe I'm reading this.  I'm not even going to go into his factual inaccuracies about the pricing structure of these PSLs; I'll instead go right into how nonsensical these numbers are:

First, Mr. Jacobs is failing basic economics here.  He proposes something that will cost $12 more per game to pay part of construction as a viable alternative to $13.80 a year per household (at worst) to pay for the whole thing!  

PSLs are, as Mike Francesa put it, the biggest scourge on the landscape of 21st Century Sports.  Not only that, they only work in situations like football teams or the Toronto Maple Leafs, where there are waiting lists years-long to get season tickets.  In other words, this scam only works when demand exceeds supply.  Mr. Jacobs now assumes that the Islanders' current season ticket base of between 8-10,000 will magically rise up and purchase PSLs for all 17,500 planned seats in the new arena?

If you actually believe that, just remember this:  The Jets had trouble selling all their PSLs during the end-stages of construction at the New Meadowlands Stadium.....And those PSLs did NOT pay for construction, no matter how desperately Mr. Jacobs wants you to believe they did.

While Islander ticket-holders will howl about paying anything, my question to them is: if you won’t chip in to help pay for your seat at a new Coliseum, why should Nassau taxpayers who don’t even sit in the seat do so?

I'm a taxpayer in Nassau County who lives in a home that was taxed over $15,000 last season.  I buy tickets to Islanders games and would gladly pay what I needed for this arena if the $13.80 number (or even $58) comes true.  That isn't enough, Mr. Jacobs?  I'm "howling" that you want me to pay a disproportionate share for something all the people of Nassau County will own and all the people of Nassau County are free to enjoy equally?

I'm sure the governor's office would love to know that his state party chairman is accusing us of not wanting to do our part.

And my question to Charles Wang is: If your projections are on target and you are so confident of the revenue, why don’t you back the investment with your money and get private banks to lend you the rest?

Mr. Wang will not and does not own the building, yet Mr. Jacobs believes it's reasonable to ask him to pay the freight.  Under the revenue-sharing and lease deal, Mr. Wang is responsible for every dime of cost overrun over $350 million and will pay 61.5% of total costs as a worst-case scenario, and he's still the bad guy?

It's funny, as a quick aside....the Newsday endorsement from yesterday made a fascinating point.  Critics have called this a boondoggle that will soak Nassau taxpayers and at the same time called it a bonanza that will make Charles Wang hundreds of millions of dollars.  Since the deal is based on revenue sharing, it can't possibly be both.  But hey, why let facts get in the way of partisanship, ideology, and a good story?

Under this plan, the Nassau taxpayer is off the hook, we don’t get encumbered by another $400 million in debt AND we keep the remainder of the 77-acre site open and available for future development around a brand new Coliseum. There are “many ways to skin a cat.” Let’s find the right one and VOTE NO on this Referendum

Mr. Jacobs and his cronies in the Democratic Party ran and hid once Tom Suozzi lost the election to Ed Mangano.  They stood idly by while Kate Murray was allowed to murder the vision of the Lighthouse Project, they have offered NO alternative, but they now believe they have the moral high ground by screaming NO and proposing these ridiculous "solutions" that won't benefit anyone.

Mr. Jacobs, you and your party have had 2 years to propose something for the Coliseum.  You have not.

You had a viable private proposal that you allowed to die, and you are now claiming it was "too big."

You have no ideas, no vision, and nothing except partisanship.  Until you have something to add to the conversation, you deserve to be ignored.

Bottom Line

I'll be honest, I'm getting very nervous about the outcome on Monday, but all we can control is the turnout.  Let's get out there and vote, and spend the weekend educating our friends, neighbors, strangers, and enemies on why this is the right way forward for Nassau County.

This is our time.

2 days out.

Leave it on the ice and bring back a win!



  1. "Our Rock the Referendum contest needs to be cancelled because of some persistent complaints that it violates New York State election law."


    I am proud of you guys

  2. I'd rather focus on the referendum than have that become an issue....our initial reading is that it didn't, but nobody here wants to break the law. We never did.

  3. All good Nick... I am all for focusing on the real issue.
    As I maintained during our exchanges, not only was the contest legally objectionable, it could ONLY lead to needless and potentially costly distractions in SO MANY WAYS.

    Just Vote Yes.

  4. Som how did voting against Murray and her gang go back in 2009? If she had been tossed out, the Lighthouse would have been a GO.
    Lay the blame for the do-or-die option at the feet of the people who created it - Murray, Hudes, Cullen, Santino, Ambrosino, Mangano, Mondello, Dunne, Ciotti, Schmitt, Gonsalves, etc, etc.
    We would not be here if they had been tossed out of office. Where were the unions, fans and local businesses in 2009? MIA.

  5. 19 Isle in NJ 22July 30, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    Great job once again Nick.

    This whole political food processing of this issue of the arena the last 10+ years really makes me sick. In my hunting for info of when this all started I stumbled across info that showed that when the Islanders first signed the current lease in 1985, part of it stated that Nassau would begin executing a total renovation of the Coliseum begining in 1990.

    I think that the average non-hockey fan really has no idea how long this issue has been brewing. I think that opponents of any kind of arena solution ... public or private have been purposely casting a fog over this issue in an attempt to maintain the status quo. As a fierce Libertarian I see both parties at fault here. Murray's hordes may have had a point about the size of the original Lighthouse Project ... but they offered Charles no insight to how they'd zone it so he could attempt to accomodate them. The general public has no clue what Charles went though.

    On the Dem side I don't think they ever got behind Suozzi's plan with enthusiasm ... they just towed the line because of party politics. They never fought Murray's clamp down on the project publicly and got behind Charles... They allowed him to twist in the wind.. and spend 10's of millions of dollars on something they damn well knew wasn't going to pass ... Yet he's a Billionaire so who cares? Right?

    I sure hope that somehow the REAL / TRUE message gets to the voters and they turn out strong to vote YES ... I got two couples going out ... One couple being TOH residents who both work in the City and had no clue the Lighthouse was killed in the first place. They had assumed all was going as planned. Then again ... they're both so immersed in City politics they forget a lot of what happens at home in Nassau.

    You'd never see this happen at the Meadowlands with the NY? Giants / Jets. That's another thing ... and you brought it up. Those PSLs the Giants and Jets charged went right into their pockets. They leveraged the waiting list demand for season tickets to 8 home games ... EIGHT!! The State of NJ built that stadium via the NJ State Sports and Exposition Authority and the good tax payers of NJ. A good investment ... yet the residents of NJ take one on the chin as the two teams that play in their building call themselves ... NEW YORK. Go figure ... and back in New York ... there is resistence to build a NEW YORK team an arena for their tennant.

    Jacobs must think that a slum lord should have his tennants pay for a new building if they want nicer things.

    Good luck all my fellow Isles fans in Nassau ... I'm behind ya's.

  6. 19 Isle in NJ 22July 30, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    I'm looking for that tidbit about the "original deal" for Nassau to renovate the NVMC ... it included a slamming of Pickett's stewardship of the Isles during his last decade as owner. I also found stuff about Dolan pursuing the Islanders for purchase from Pickett ... It was dumb luck I found that article to begin with. It's in one of the local NY paper's archives. Most of the stuff on Pickett has to deal with trying to sell to Gluckstern and Spano.

  7. It's true...I've barely been able to find a picture of Pickett.

    Definitely post the link when you find it.