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NIFA at the negotiating table
In October, when Nassau County Executive Laura Curran tried to hire Gary Dellaverson, a prominent labor attorney known for his aggressive representation from the government’s side of the table, the County Legislature Rules Committee turned down the request by a bipartisan 7-0 vote.
Tuesday evening, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority is likely to hire Dellaverson itself, for something near his usual going rate of $25,000 per month which he requested from the county. The state board that oversees Nassau’s finances will then request that Dellaverson sit in on all negotiations between the county and its five labor unions.
Dellaverson, a fixture in labor negotiations for four decades, has represented New York City, the Port Authority and the MTA (alongside former LIRR president and current Chief Deputy County Executive Helena Williams) in setting contracts. Nassau’s unions and their 7,000 employees have worked without contracts since the final day of 2017.
The byplay between unions and elected officials, whose careers can depend on union support, are often subtle, not least because taxpayers would often like their representatives to fight for modest contracts that will allow low taxes, not big contracts that will encourage huge union support. In that context, this battle between the legislature and the unions on one side and Curran and NIFA on the other is unusually out in the open.
In fact, several legislators are expected to attend Tuesday’s 7 p.m. NIFA meeting to register their disapproval of the hire and his potential attendance at negotiations.
Several NIFA board members said they’d rather have a representative at the negotiating table now and put the kibosh on an unacceptable and unaffordable offer before it is inked.
Wagering on Belmont casino?
There was an important moment during Empire State Development’s board meeting regarding Belmont Park’s redevelopment earlier this month that could’ve been very easily missed. But careful observers remembered it after recent reports that Sheldon Adelson hopes to build a casino in New York City.
As Belmont’s draft environmental impact statement was being released, ESD Vice President Thomas Conoscenti noted in brief remarks that “gaming, video lottery terminals, and casino games are prohibited” by the general project plan that would bring an arena for the New York Islanders, a hotel, and a retail village to the site. A representative for State Sen. Elaine Phillips then picked up on the comment, and noted its importance.
But it’s not quite that simple.
The project, which was first announced a year ago this week, is being built by a group of developers called New York Arena Partners. It cannot include a casino because of a specific clause in the request for proposals and, since then, in the project documents, sources told The Point. Ultimately, the final transaction documents and lease will include that prohibition, too, they said.
But there’s nothing in New York Racing Association regulations or elsewhere that prohibits a casino at Belmont Park more generally, sources told The Point.
So, could casino gambling come to Belmont in the future? Sources are quick to note that area residents fought against the possibility of video lottery terminals at Belmont nearly three years ago. Would anyone want to try that fight again? Or, would they be more likely to turn to Aqueduct, where the VLTs ended up after the Belmont battle?
Then again, interests and needs change - and we’re still a ways off from any new casino being considered in New York. After all, state law prohibits new casino licenses from being issued until 2023.
If all goes well at Belmont, that’ll be after the current development is built and open. The Islanders could be playing, residents and visitors could be shopping, and the area could be bustling.
At that point, anything’s possible.
Randi F. Marshall
A new twist
And the winner is ….
Once again, it’s time for the Hunger Games of New York regional politics. And this time, New York City is the victor -- at least of the downstate games.
On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the Regional Economic Development Council awards. But this yearly extravaganza is not a battle to the death among districts. Rather, it’s a competition among the state’s 10 regions for a pot of funds that’s distributed to key development projects, job creation efforts and more.
And instead of one victor left standing after a bloody fight, the REDC awards leave everyone as winners -- some just win more than others.
This year, NYC is one of the big winners. It garnered $84.4 million for 137 projects -- from nanotechnology-manufacturing facilities to life-sciences lab renovations. Long Island, meanwhile, received $68.3 million for 103 projects. Amazingly, three projects -- the Long Beach Water Pollution Control plant, Suffolk County sewer expansion and Westhampton Beach sewers -- will get $15 million of that pot.
But Long Island still gets its own bragging rights. Since the competition began in 2011, Long Island has been a big winner five times. This year marked New York City’s second big win.
Randi F. Marshall