Tomorrow is the day that may very well decide the future of the New York Islanders. The August 1st referendum vote is set to go before the voters. Do Nassau residents want to give the county the go ahead to borrow $400 million to build a state of the art sports complex and minor league ballpark or will they vote no because they don't want to pay any more taxes to fund a project they either don't believe in or don't know too much about?
This has been the question being asked since Nassau Country Executive Ed Mangano and Islanders owner Charles Wang announced this referendum vote in May. One thing is certain, even if this vote does pass, there will still be opposition from NIFA, who must approve the $400 million bond borrowing. The Democrats will also have their day. They could very well not back the arena project which will in turn cause more controversy regarding the topic.
NIFA has remained virtually quiet leading up to the vote, except for a few comments and literature hinting they at least want some changes in the details of the project before they consider approving the $400 million. The majority of the Nassau Democrats have publicly stated they are either against this referendum or don't know enough about it to approve the development.
The fact of the matter is, anybody who is against this, does understand what this project and plan is about. Many won't tell you publicly they don't trust the revenue findings that Nassau County has made public. They also won't tell you that they want the Islanders to leave. What they will tell you is they just don't want to pay any more taxes. That is a naive answer, and even the no voters understand that. While there are voters who are upset about the possibility of paying more taxes, this is about one topic. Democrats vs. Republicans. That is sad.
Before we concentrate on the present, let's take a look back. Charles Wang purchased this team 13 years ago, and what has he gotten out of it? Nothing! Literally nothing. He has lost about $20 million a year, and has just recently stated on a local sports radio program (Mike'd up on 660 WFAN NY) that he has lost between $220-$240 million combined since his purchase of the club.
If this was any other owner in professional sports, they would have cried uncle years ago, and either move this team to or sold it to an investor who would have taken them out of town so fast, they would forget to take their belongings with them. Charles Wang, for all his mistakes when it came to some management decisions, is a lifesaver to every Islanders fan. He is a Long Islander who truly believes the team should be playing in Nassau. The same site where this once proud franchise became a dynasty and won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980-1983.
Mr. Wang attempted to privately fund a project with developer Scott Rechler. This development, the Lighthouse Project was set to create thousands of jobs, bring revenue to Nassau, including local businesses, and keep Long Island's only professional sports team in Nassau for years to come. All this, and it wouldn't cost the taxpayers a dime. Sounds great, right? What could be the problem? The Town of Hempstead was the problem. They thought the project was too big. Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, shot the deal down.
Funny thing though, mostly every Democrat was behind this plan, including the NYS Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs (we'll get back to him later). Well, Kate Murray and the TOH pulled the plug on this venture and the NY Islanders, the Coliseum site, and Nassau, were once again left in limbo.
Fast forward to this past May. Mangano and Wang announce the referendum plan. Everybody in Nassau is happy, right? Not everybody. Guess who is against this project now? The Democrats. You can't make this stuff up. Try to follow me now. Guess who is for the present referendum? You got it, the Republicans, including Kate Murray who stood at the podium during the press conference in May waving her pompoms in full support of this arena plan.
What it comes down to is Democrat vs. Republican again. The only people who are getting hurt in this childish game are the resident's of Nassau. It's the equivalent of kids on the playground arguing with each other. Each friend will side with their other friend. That doesn't do anybody any good, and won't resolve anything. That's the definition of politics. Sad huh?
Oh yeah, remember Jay Jacobs? Well he went on that same NY radio station before Charles Wang and did nothing but help Wang's cause. Wang didn't even have to show up. Jacobs went on a rambling spree comparing hockey tickets to PSL's which are used in the NFL. To even go into that thought process is utterly crazy. Not including playoffs, an NFL team plays 8 games a year at home, compared to a hockey team's 41 home games a year.
Jacobs came across as completely unprepared and added nothing to the interview. The show's host, Mike Francesca made Jacobs look foolish, and the interview was not very long. I think by ending the interview, he did Jacobs a huge favor.
If you think Jacobs couldn't one up his radio performance, think again. Commenting on his Twitter account in response to Islanders fans and Nassau County voters who are proponents of the plan, Jacobs tweeted the following statement , "Loved the Tweets from the Islander faithful: If you won't chip in for a new Coliseum why should Nassau taxpayers? VOTE NO!". Very professional move coming from a politician, don't you think? Obviously not. For a politician to respond to Islanders fans the way he did, is very unprofessional and immature. A lot of those Islanders fans are also Nassau voters and I'm sure many are Democrats. I guess that immaturity goes back to that whole playground mentality.
The Nassau Coliseum issue has been going on too long now. The Coliseum HUB site is an eyesore. It is time to do something about it. To pay at the very most, $58 dollars a year to take a chance on creating jobs, bringing back the Nassau economy, helping local businesses become profitable again, keeping Long Island's only professional sports team here, and actually having a chance to put money back in my pocket, isn't asking too much at all. Keep in mind, $58 a year is the worst case scenario. Somebody needs to take a chance on Nassau Country, and we as voters actually have an opportunity to make a statement. Approving this plan will be a step in that direction.
Watching situations like this and the debt issue in Washington that is going on right now, it really makes me take a second look at politics in this country. It's all about what party you belong to, and the citizens get squeezed, all because of an agenda. I for one am a Democrat, but i am seriously considering becoming an Independent after all this. I will never decide not to vote during elections or referendum's like this. I still believe in the voting process. I just don't want to belong to one group anymore. It's something to think about.
Finally, i am voting Yes tomorrow because it's what i believe is best for Nassau and everybody involved. I'm not going to vote one way because a Democrat or Republican tells me to. I'm voting yes because I'm my own person. If a lot of voters go out and vote, i guarantee you it will raise the eyebrows of the politicians in office and make them take notice. Believe it or not, we do have a say.
We don't have to be taking sides during a playground fight.