UPDATE: Not more then five minutes after posting this BDGallof tweets: *** BREAKING **** - According to Democratic source, they have heard that Democrats will no longer oppose the Mangano Coliseum Referendum... Per source: "doesn't mean they are cool with it, but no longer will actively oppose it"
With the entry draft, the RFA deadline and the upcoming UFA period attracting the attention of most denizens of Islanders Country to the talent on the ice, I will continue to focus on the ice itself, and more specifically, where said ice is likely to be located once the team's lease runs out in 2015.
Assuming the arena referendum passes on August 1, the next step for the arena plan will be the Nassau County Legislature, which will need to approve the borrowing by a supermajority, which means 13 votes of the 19 member body. Although the politics on this are inexplicable based on what we ordinarily expect from our parties, the conduct of the members of the Nassau County Legislature can usually be explained by self-preservation. Thus, you have Democrats acting as anti-tax crusaders and generally opposing the plan (and ignoring the obvious economic benefits associated with a new Coliseum) in the hopes of finding an issue to run on in the upcoming election. As there are currently 8 Democrats in the Legislature, assuming the Republicans all support the plan, two Democrats will need to join the Republican majority to assure passage.
Listed below are the 8 Democratic legislators and their publicly expressed position (if any) on the revenue sharing plan expressed last week. If anyone has more information regarding the position of any of these legislators, please leave a comment.
Kevan Abrahams (LD1-Hempstead): Opposed. Abrahams has been quoted as criticizing the arena plan as relying on "lofty" revenue figures that may never materialize. He told Newsday: "We are against taxpayers paying for any of it . . . "
Robert Troiano (LD2-Westbury): Likely opposed. Troiano, whose district encompasses the Coliseum site, has not expressed a position, but has voiced opposition to the notion of spending tax money on the Coliseum. At one of the legislative hearings regarding the referendum, he said: "Something will be cut to pay for this...We don't know what that is. It might be at the cost of more union jobs - maybe not your unions, but other unions. It might be at a cost of providing services to constituents in my district. We've seen no details. I am concerned."
Joseph Scannell (LD5-Baldwin): No expressed position.
Judi Bosworth (LD10-Great Neck): No expressed position.
Wayne H. Wink. Jr. (LD11-Roslyn): Unclear. He previously expressed lukewarm support for the current redevelopment efforts and was expected to support the August 1 referendum, but ultimately voted against the referendum after his efforts to schedule the vote for election day failed. I have not seen him express a view on the revenue sharing proposal.
Judy Jacobs (LD16-Woodbury): Likely opposed. She expressed sharp skepticism about the process and about potential cost to taxpayers and voted against the referendum.
Diane Yatauro (LD18-Glen Cove): Opposed. Newsday: "Mr. Mangano keeps promising he will not raise taxes, yet he wants the residents of our county to vote themselves a tax increase to pay for his new coliseum," said Minority Leader Diane Yatauro, (D-Glen Cove). "Shame on him for expecting taxpayers to pay for his poor budget management again. In view of the details released [Wednesday], the Democratic Caucus is even less likely to support any bonding proposal." For a laugh, listen to Yatauro sound a lot more open minded on Botta site here. Note that Yatauro is not running for reelection this November.
David Denenberg (LD19-Merrick): Possible support. Denenberg was the one Democrat to vote in favor of the referendum, which would make him a logical potential pickup for Coliseum supporters. However, he has expressed concern about two points, which would likely need to be part of any deal for a "Yes" vote. First, he wants legislation to ensure that the revenue sharing proceeds will be directed to offset the tax levy designated to fund the debt service. Frankly, this seems like a no-brainer and I see no reason why such legislation wouldn't pass. Second, Denenberg has stressed the need for other development at the site. It's not clear how the current plan allows for other development.
In sum, it looks like there are four definite or likely "No" votes, one potential "Yes" (Denenberg), one possible "Yes" (Wink) and two unknowns (Scannell and Bosworth). Looks like the path to passage is to work something out with Denenberg and Wink.
One wild card is redistricting. The Republicans have passed new district lines to become effective this Election Day when all legislators are up for reelection. Democrats are fighting it in court, but as of now they have not succeeded in stopping the plan from becoming effective. If the plan becomes effective, the Republicans may increase their majority after Election Day by two. In particular, Denenberg and Scannell's districts will be merged as well as Jacobs and Yatauro's districts. This may increase the chance of the plan being passed. However, note that the new Legislature doesn't get sworn in until sometime in December. Under the agreement with Wang, all approvals have to be done before year end, which would make it difficult to wait until the new legislators are sworn in.