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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
Presidents v. The Supreme Court

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.

Michael Miller


By Michael Miller
Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages

In early 1946, a brouhaha erupted between the AFL and the CIO, the state’s rival federations of labor groups. Republican leaders in the state legislature endorsed the upstate-oriented AFL’s proposal that New York license and regulate barbers and cosmetologists. The downstate-oriented CIO, which had members who couldn’t document the required formal education, launched opposition so fierce and threatened political retaliation so severe that the legislation was considered dead. And then, as the 1946 session was drawing to a close and the CIO was concentrating on other things, the “barber and hairdresser bills” started moving through both houses, with almost total Republican support and Democratic opposition. Member of Assembly Genesta Strong, first-termer from Nassau County, dependable, safe and already expected to step aside, was asked to be the official sponsor of the cosmetologist licensing bill.

Governor Dewey’s signing of the bill cemented support for his re-election from the powerful AFL, which had been the whole point. To those in political inner circles, Mrs. Strong had proved herself a reliable team player whose dignity was useful in deflecting potential attack.

Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
Sustainable LI: Getting Good Things Done

Farmingdale-based Sustainable Long Island is hosting its eighth annual Sustainability Conference on Friday, April 4, at Carlyle on the Green, at Bethpage State Park.

The event will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and traditionally draws hundreds of people from all walks of life: government, business and not-for-profits. This year’s theme is “Accomplishing More Together.” Tickets are $75 per person, which includes the cost of lunch.

Quiet Coliseum

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.