Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Tale of 2 Headlines (Plus, More Reports and What We Can Do)

Dave knocked it out of the park with a fantastic review of the lease between Nassau County and Charles Wang's Arenaco LLC, but right now we have a few other things to get to.

First - What We Can Do

The areener referendum is vastly different from the Lighthouse process because the special election affords us knowledge of exactly what we can do and how to do it.

Letters to the Editor are a great way to get our opinions out into a more general audience (everyone remembers my very famous letter to the editor from 2 years ago....), and the Islanders have taken the liberty of putting together an easy primer to help you get your letter to the right person.  As always, feel free to shoot an email if you'd like a proofread of your letter.

In addition, I've talked to a few people, and I want to get your opinion on this.  Would you be willing to phone bank and make calls to people in Nassau who've purchased tickets at Nassau Coliseum to drive up yes votes?  I mentioned it to some people but want to gauge interest.

Don't Fear the Areener

This coming Wednesday, July 27, at 4 PM, there is a big outdoor rally at Nassau Coliseum to support the areener.  Blue Oyster Cult will be playing a free concert, though it's unclear who will be playing cowbell (I'd like to volunteer).

In fact, I had a Twitter discussion on Friday...we should bring a sea of cowbells to support the referendum.  Cowbell up!

A Tale of Two Headlines

On Thursday, County Comptroller George Maragos released his report (separate from the OLBR report, which had another interesting tidbit in there that I'll get to later) on the areener situation.

Maragos' report is overall positive, and he makes common-sense requests that, if done, would make it "a good deal" in his estimation.

First, Maragos wants Charles Wang to be responsible for any cost overruns, as he fears the areener will cost more than the allotted $350 million (as Dave pointed out, this is already written into the lease, and people I've spoken to who are close to Charles Wang see no issue with doing this).

Second, George Maragos expressed concerns that "Arenaco LLC," which Charles Wang recently incorporated to manage the new areener, is a shell corporation with no assets of its own.  Maragos believes it is important for Wang and the Islanders to guarantee the payments for which Arenaco is responsible, in order to provide the highest level of protection for taxpayers.

Third, Maragos noted that the current lease deal gives Charles Wang development rights on the property and suggests an RFP (again).

In addition, Maragos mentioned the Camoin report and the OLBR report, both of which were highly positive on the areener, saying the numbers were optimistic but not unrealistic at all.  That's an important step as it once again validates the studies we've seen.  In fact, the OLBR report, which suggested that the areener could cost taxpayers $13.80 a year, also suggested the maximum exposure (if there is no lockbox and revenues are not used to offset new taxes) is $51.50, not the originally-calculated $58.

It's important to realize 2 major things about the Maragos report: He is not asking for anything unreasonable, and many of the changes he suggests are actively being negotiated.  For the first time since the Democrats launched their anti-areener campaign (and don't kid yourselves - Jay Jacobs penned the "Vote No" op-ed in the Herald this week), I see a path to this being built (assuming passage).

Quick Aside

2 more very fascinating numbers came out of the Camoin Associates report that was prepared for Nassau County.  The report was more optimistic than the OLBR report, stating that if the revenue projections, which Maragos has called "optimistic but not unreasonable," pan out, residents could see a tax SAVINGS of $26.81 per household per year.

In addition, we finally have a quantification on the cost of doing nothing: $16 per household per year.

It's important to note that this report only looks at tax revenue, and not the overall impact on jobs and the economy (which was already pegged at 2,660 jobs lost and $243 million lost from the economy every year).  Residents are faced with a truly stark decision:

$13.80 (assuming a lockbox), or tax savings....for something.


$16 for nothing.

Let's get the word out and make sure Long Island makes the right choice.

Fun With Headlines

Now, here's where the fun starts.  Newsday originally posted an article about the Maragos report with this headline:

Both Dave and I had been ratcheting up criticism on Twitter, and we were heartened to see the $13.80 was finally covered.  This seemed like an even better step forward in terms of framing of the issue.

Then, later in the night, the headline was changed:

And to make matters more interesting, the article itself was re-written to sound more negative, including quotes from Desmond Ryan (who finally exposed himself as wanting the development rights for his cronies, which I've been saying all along was the source of his vicious opposition to this project that he didn't have the guts to declare to Chris Botta back in May).

I and many others were naturally outraged, and we started hammering with more criticism of the framing of this issue.  That's where this gets interesting...

They changed it back.

Either way, we have had a good few days for the areener, including major endorsements from unions.  I don't blame the County workers' union for endorsing but not explicitly instructing members to vote yes because the County recently cut jobs and he's in a tough position between management and the rank and file workers.  I'm fine to give that a pass.

Let this be a lesson: pressure does work if it's coordinated and based on fact.

Moving Forward

Expect a formal endorsement of a voting position on Sunday morning, and an announcement of my plans for Election Day on Monday.  I'm also planning a look at 3 huge logical fallacies underpinning reports that the Islanders leaving and Nassau Coliseum shutting its doors will not have that bad an effect on the economy.  Dave will continue his amazing series of deep dives into the documents and reports, and we hope to have some great information for you.

Bottom Line

The vote is 9 days away.

Last stand at the OK Corral.

As Chris Botta reported, the "concerned citizens" of the Association for a Better Long Island are sharpening their knives, ready to release a media barrage blasting this plan to high heaven (Ironically - go look at their web site....there's still a Lighthouse Project rendering in the flash montage at the beginning of the site).  Polls are due to come out over the next several days (also according to Botta), and despite my previous insistence that polls are untrustworthy, they will show the vote to be close.  I wouldn't at all be surprised if one poll said the No votes were in the lead.  We've seen vandalism of Vote Yes signs (reader Scott says signs he put up in Levittown were vandalized, and I had a Vote Yes sign stolen off my lawn), so please do not kid yourselves.  The opposition exists.

However, there's a bigger truth, like my friends at The Community Alliance love to say: The only poll that matters is the one on Election Day.

As I've said before, let's leave it all on the ice and let everyone know that we will fight to the end.  We can't take this or anything for granted in terms of the vote.



  1. Really glad you captured the screenshots. Saw that myself (but wasn't on Twitter at the time) and it drove me up a wall.

    Great write-up; let me know anything I can do to help.

  2. Nick, what gives???If its not a conspiracy, then why do you think that Newsday went out of their way to spin this positive news into something negative???

  3. Well - Jim Dolan appeared in a pro-areener ad....

  4. Great post -- there is definitely some positive momentum but the Newsday poll is a reminder that a win on August 1 will require a 100% effort. (Although I will pat myself on the back in noting that I had the "Shuttered Coliseum Tax" almost two weeks ago here:

  5. Better late than never, Newsday.

  6. Before anyone asks - we're aware of the poll and my post tomorrow will include things about it.

    For those who haven't yet seen it:

  7. So Dolan gave Wang ten seconds, not mentioning the Islanders, just jobs and to you thirteen years of bad coverage is forgiven?

    Dolan's reporting is his true voice, not his face which would make most Long Islanders oppose anything he supports. No wonder he agreed to appear.

    Meanwhile, Strang/Botta work the other side of the street to make Mark Gandler's yearly telethon to bring back Yashin as a reason to divide Islander fans in supporting the referendum.

    You were played perfectly as usual.

    But at least Nick and Botta finally used to word Dolan somewhere, of course it was to praise him for their own benefit/source game.

    They won't go near him for anything else. Dolan bans Botta his career is over forever in this market.

    Let's see some ads on Msg all week endorsing the referendum, like we do Knick ads during Islander games, with some huge editorials saying this team is a public trust that cannot be moved under any circumstances and equal coverage to that of his own teams permanently.

    Then we can have a real discussion about the Dolan partnership with the New York Islanders.

    Not before.

    Ok Nick, you can delete this post now too or label it conspiracy.

    New York Islander Fan Central.

  8. Dolan can kiss my butt... but I dont have any problem with acknowledging when and if the guy ever allows anything that will help. In fact, pointing out when he does something helpful or not destructive could accomplish two things- making people aware OF it, and aware of how rare it really is.

    BTW: An offbeat concern for sure, Nick lol- but the extent to which the "arener" joke is being used is getting to the point where people reading all this stuff will think that is the correct spelling. I can see using it in paragraph titles, headings, etc- but everywhere? The editor in my heart shudders just a little bit. And what if people are searching for news on the arena- spelled correctly lol?

  9. NYIFC,

    You are just embarrassing yourself now so please give it up already. If people want to read your nonsense, I am sure you have a blog somewhere. Dolan did a commercial because he is an evil genius whose appearance will make people vote against the project?


  10. NYIFC, a few things here....

    First, when have I ever deleted your posts? Have I deleted any of your rants since you decided for some reason to start trolling here?

    I'm going to defer to my nature and respond to you with a question, prefaced:

    You have your own blog, where you have the freedom to cover this however you want, just like I have the freedom to run this site in a way I see fit.

    A week from tomorrow, the fate of the franchise you profess to love and defend to the far reaches of the internet (I see you everywhere holding people who write uninformed anti-Isles pieces accountable).

    A poll was just released showing, despite any faulty methodologies I could point out, that we have our work cut out for us.

    Why, therefore, are you choosing to spend the run-up to this referendum trying to pick a fight with me instead of working to be a part of the solution?

    I don't care if you call me a fraud up down and sideways - but how is this helping get the referendum passed?

    Personally, I'm concentrating on the referendum. The polls open in less than 8 days. If you'd like to continue distracting everyone with this, I can't stop you, because I won't disable comments or ban you....But I would like you to explain to me how you think this helps.

    This is the same as your hard-on for Suozzi in 09: you want to have the same conversation over and over again. Either you can explain yourself or you can go talk to the wall.

  11. So things you don't like are rants and trolling? It's not like I'm calling out your family here and insulting you Nick beyond asking more than fair questions about the coverage owned by the person who stands to gain the most by the Islanders leaving or why you are so painfully reluctant to do so.

    Even you are doing entries on Dolan's misleading headlines so hate me all you like but you see it as well.

    We all know Botta needs Dolan to jump when he says so or his Msg credential is gone. He does one blog entry on Dolan like he does Wang, he likely even faces a lawsuit faster then the NHL was sued.

    A. I am not picking a fight with anyone, simply asking fair questions about someone who complains about coverage, but not the person who signs the checks and has a record a mile long of regulating media who stands to gain the most by the teams departure. To say nothing of his treatment of our team in print and media since he pulled them off television in 1998 that ran off as many people as possible.

    What you deflect as conspiracy theories are documented facts from professional media and the people working at Newsday.

    B. You were wrong about Suozzi and dismissed it as not wanting to look back, but Suozzi putting the project on the sidelines ran out the Lighthouse's clock.

    C. It will get ugly if a referendum fails, the framework of an agreement is already in place regardless and what will be the eventual compromise.

    If you say you did not delete a post, I will apologize and take that at your word.

    We're done.

  12. NYIFC, you have called Nick out more than once...Now you're patronizing the guy...Nick has been doing this as a free service a...He doesnt need you up his ass...You've made your point and your point isnt being dismissed by everyone...

  13. Patrick aka sign guyJuly 24, 2011 at 11:37 PM

    Hey NYIFC lets get some thing straight. Go spread your evil minded thoughts else where!! Nick has spend many endless hours trying to give the public unbias info into this important issue. Take your your twisted BS and go else where!! You are wasting our time with negitive info. Nick, simply ignore nonsense.

  14. What exactly does Dolan have to gain by the Isles leaving is what I'd like to know. I dont care how FANTASTIC a new areener may be here in Nassau County, it will never be MSG. MSG is MSG. Know far and wide. Smack dab on Manhattan Island in NYC. MSG would not lose one, NOT ONE, show to a beautiful new NVMC. What will happen is thta all the grade "A" acts that play the GAHHHHDEN will add a couple dates to play at another premier venue on LONG ISLAND. Man the penis envy against Dolan is remarkable. Who gives a rats arse about Dolan. Just stop it.

  15. What exactly does Dolan have to gain by the Isles leaving is what I'd like to know?

    That's too easy and the history speaks for itself.

    Charles Dolan wanted to buy the Islanders before buying Msg. This company purchases or buys into other teams facilities. First Hartford as soon as the body cooled in Hartford, Radio City, Beacon Theater, next LA forum.

    And they own the Long Island media. News12 and now Newsday.

    To answer your question at least 250m in returned cable contract money from the Islander television deal until 2030, a formal and permanent expansion back into Nassau County for the Knick and Ranger brand.

    The AHL Rangers at the renovated Cablevision Coliseum ala Hartford after the Whalers left, with their games on Msg+ and access to the revenue from the same things Wang is trying to do this for.

    Dolan wants the shows at Msg and on Long Island, the Dolans signed up the Islanders as their Yankees in the 80's when Cablevision was getting started.

    Then they took them off television in 1998 and now they hide them in print and on television.

    By all means read the NY Times, if you don't want to believe me. Remember the Metro Ice Challenge, the pregame pulled, all the +2 games, and the negative coverage for this team that Dolan never receives in Newsday for the teams he owns?