Coliseum bond-vote drive yet to take shape

Nassau Coliseum is seen prior to the New

Nassau Coliseum is seen prior to the New York Islanders playing against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday, October 29 2010 in New York. (Credit: Photo by Jim McIsaac)

With a bond referendum to rebuild the Nassau Coliseum slated for Aug. 1, proponents were still preparing behind the scenes last week for a coordinated "vote yes" drive, sources said.

Section 14-102 of state election law requires financial disclosures for ballot-proposal campaigns, lawyers say. As of Friday, no committee for this purpose appeared to have filed with the state Board of Elections.

Insiders expect allies of County Executive Edward Manganoand Islanders ownerCharles Wang to take part soon in an ad-hoc organization to push the $400-million borrowing proposal ($350 million for the arena, $50 million for a minor-league baseball stadium). Meanwhile, Jim Castellane, president of Nassau/Suffolk Building Trades Council, said unions will put "boots on the ground." Mario Saccente, executive vice president of the Long Island chapter of the state Restaurant Association, is among the business figures who back the bonding.

Facebook offers one forum so far. A page on the social-networking site declares: "On August 1, vote YES for a new home for the New York Islanders." Islanders fans from elsewhere are urged to persuade county voters to approve it.

Skeptics wonder if a deal with Wang, to be detailed, could really profit the county -- let alone whether the county's state fiscal monitoring board will go along.

Residents disposed to vote "no" are seeking their own ways to send out word. Among them, EthellSmith of Freeport said she doesn't mind a Coliseum renovation but can't afford any added tax burden and "I don't want it to be an arena for the Islanders and I don't want a minor-league baseball team." Richard Johnson of East Atlantic Beach said he's been arguing with Team Mangano via Facebook. He objects to Mangano deriding November as the "silly season" for voting, and to the idea Wang would pay the election costs of $1.6 million to $2.2 million -- if the plan is approved.

CHECKS SWING: The new would-be New York Mets investor, financier David Einhorn, has not only backed federal candidates over the years; he's also made some big-league state donations. He's contributed $120,000 to a committee called Democrats for Education Reform -- which supports charter-school expansion and lists him on its board of advisers. He and his wife also contributed to candidacies of Thomas Suozzi, Andrew M. Cuomo, George Pataki, Eric Dinallo, Eric Schneiderman and David A. Paterson, records show.