Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Posted by Nick at Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Hey everyone - I worked a brutal week last week, so I didn't have the time I thought I would to write. I'm back, to the best of my ability.
We had a recent mini-controversy about the "areener" referendum, as some suddenly questioned whether holding the referendum was legal. I find this pretty amusing on first blush, for 2 reasons. First of all, as my last Underpants Gnomes themed post says, there are no details of the referendum, and the text hasn't yet been written by the clerk of the legislature. It makes no sense to say that something which doesn't even exist yet could be illegal. I'll defer to Legis. Denenberg on this one: the referendum vote is to determine whether or not to create a tax line to be used for paying the debt service, and it's still valid even if the bonding then fails. Nothing to see here, folks....though I do find it interesting that Desmond Ryan, head of the hilariously named Association for a Better Long Island, is again in the middle of this. After playing nice-nice with Chris Botta, he's then turned around and blasted these plans up and down....and nobody mentions that he is affiliated with major developers who would want the rights to the land themselves! As a consulting client I've worked for says, that's not a believable source. Reserve judgment until the details come, and they should be due any time.
However, when you consider the referendum, there is something much more important that we need to consider: turnout is key.
We've mentioned before that the referendum is not the be-all and end-all of whether or not a new arena is built. There are still 2 steps after: the county legislature has to approve the bond issue with a supermajority, and NIFA needs to provide final sign-off on the bonding.
I've already mentioned that the details are important, the numbers must work, and there are politics at play as to whether Democrats would give Ed Mangano his super-majority in light of the serious questions raised 2 weeks ago.
Some say the bonding is a slam dunk if the referendum passes.
Not so fast.
Turnout on non-election days is notorious for being pathetically low on Long Island. How many people do you know that vote for the school budgets that are stashed during the week in May or June every year? In the same vein, turnout for the primary elections is usually very low, and some believe the referendum was scheduled on August 1 for a similar reason.
If the referendum passes, but turnout is below 10,000, could that really be seen as the "will of the people?"
If the referendum passes with less than 60% of the vote in favor, can this be considered a slam dunk? Will NIFA have to accept it?
Not at all.
The truth remains: if people truly want this to pass, they need to drum up turnout and make this pass overwhelmingly. This is the only thing that can't be explained away or rationalized. That is the only thing those with final authority will listen to.
(Blogger's Note: This is a new idea - smaller posts to keep the flow going in between larger pieces, which is reflective of my reduced levels of free time. Please let me know what you think)