The recent political chatter about “Obamacare” before the Supreme Court of the United States got a great deal of media attention. President Obama added fuel to the fire when he declared, “Ultimately, I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”
For someone who was a law professor those words were absurd. Even if a bill passed unanimously in the house and senate, it could still be overturned – if the law was in violation of the Constitution.
Giving up is not “reform.” County Executive Ed Mangano’s proposal to transfer property assessment from the county to the towns might possibly speed up assessment decisions by replacing one large and overwhelmed bureaucracy with several somewhat smaller ones. It will likely recreate problems that were major motivations in creating our highly centralized county government 75 years ago.
The 1938 county charter merged the town Boards of Assessors and the County Board of Equalization, ending three decades of complaints, lawsuits and hard feelings about the lack of specific, uniform levels of property assessments between the towns. In a tax system screaming out for simplification, clarification and a sense of certainty, spinning off assessments to the towns will reintroduce “equalization” as an annual issue. Tens of thousands of residents are still trying to figure out why their assessment went down but their tax bill still went up. The division of taxes heading up the tax food chain in an equitable manner is the most complex subject in local government, and it’s all going to make people very sad, particularly in villages and school districts that are split between townships.
Manhattan District Attorney (D.A.) Robert Morgenthau was facing a spirited Democratic primary challenge from a former judge in 2005, but his opponent had trouble finding anything substantively negative to say about Morgenthau.
The reason I know this: a city-based tabloid newspaper reporter called me weeks before the election, asking whether it was legal to have a Manhattan driver’s license while at the same time registering and insuring a car in Dutchess County, where auto insurance premiums are much lower. The answer: yes, so long as the insured vehicle is primarily garaged in Dutchess County. I was the director of public affairs for the New York State Insurance Department at the time and knew immediately the question pertained to Morgenthau because he met those criteria.
Written by Mike Barry Friday, 05 October 2012 00:00
The New York Islanders’ lease at the Nassau Coliseum ends in 2015, and Long Island’s only major league sports franchise will almost certainly play its home games elsewhere after that.
But the current National Hockey League (NHL) labor dispute may last a few months, if not the entire 2012-2013 season, giving Nassau residents in 2012 a preview of what the Coliseum will look like without its anchor tenant.
“If the Islanders leave, the Coliseum will not stay open,” said Michael N’Dolo, a vice president at Camoin Associates, a Saratoga Springs, NY-based consulting firm which has done economic analyses for Nassau County’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) for years. “And think about all of the spending that’s going to leave the county.”
The Nassau Coliseum will go dark after 2015, N’Dolo believes, because the Coliseum cannot remain economically viable based solely on revenues generated by musical acts and trade shows, coupled with the 40-year-old Coliseum’s need for millions of dollars in capital improvements. Plus, if a top-tier entertainer wants to reach a Long Island audience while touring nationally, they’ll book shows at Madison Square Garden (MSG) or the Barclays Center, because MSG has received an extensive facelift and the Barclays Center just opened its doors. Both venues also feature great access to the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).
Moreover, should the Islanders move in 2015 to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, that borough would receive the $61 million that is now spent in, and around, Uniondale over the course of the Islanders’ 41 regular-season home games. Camoin Associates estimated in 2010 that the Islanders generated annual ticket sales of $26 million. This, in turn, led to food and drink revenues of $13 million, transportation-related expenditures totaling $12 million, and an additional $10 million in spending, which occurred at Nassau hotels and retail outlets, according to Camoin’s analysis.
The Long Island Marriott, situated adjacent to the Coliseum, is the highest-grossing hotel or motel among 56 such businesses in Nassau, something documented in a May 2012 Nassau County comptroller report which can be found on the comptroller’s website. Indeed, the Uniondale Marriott’s annual revenues are about three times higher than Nassau’s second highest-grossing lodging facility. They’ll survive but the Marriott’s coffers will take a hit.
Civic pride aside, my larger point is that the New York Islanders’ likely departure from the county in three years is going to result in bad economic news for a lot of people: the seasonal employees who work at Islanders home games and cannot afford the extra expense of a city commute, the restaurants and bars which cater to Islanders fans who travel to the Coliseum, and the local governments who rely on the sales tax revenues and hotel occupancy fees which the Islanders bring to Nassau.
Nevertheless, I’m warming up to the idea of the Islanders moving to the Barclays Center because Brooklyn is geographically a part of Long Island, and it would allow for an Islanders reunion with the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Nets. Both the Islanders and the Nets played their homes games at the Nassau Coliseum in the 1970s, an era when the county’s taxpayers invested in, and benefited from, major league sports teams.