A Sands New York sign at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale.

A Sands New York sign at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale. Credit: Newsday/Randi F. Marshall

Daily Point

Contract with Sullivan & Cromwell awaits legislative approval

Sullivan & Cromwell, Nassau County’s outside attorney handling Hofstra University’s lawsuit over the Las Vegas Sands casino proposal, could be paid a maximum of $2.5 million, with $1 million “encumbered at this time,” meaning that’s at least what is being spent for its legal services.

The contract and accompanying resolutions and explanations were filed with the Nassau County clerk’s office Wednesday, a day after The Point inquired as to how much the global law firm was being paid.

The contract start date was April 20, 2023, just two days after Hofstra filed its initial petition. The contract was signed by Sullivan & Cromwell partner Matthew Schwartz on June 22 and by Nassau County Attorney Thomas Adams on Aug. 24.

“The County Attorney’s Office reviewed the existing special counsel panel for firms with relevant expertise in high profile complex litigation and was unable to find one,” the paperwork stated, a finding that allowed the county to go around its established list of legal vendors. “This matter involves certain nuances that required the special expertise and availability that came with the Sullivan & Cromwell LLP firm.”

A “delay memo” dated Aug. 22, written by Assistant County Attorney Mary Nori, said negotiations over the contract had continued from April until June, at which point Sullivan & Cromwell officials thought they had completed the process. Nassau County officials, however, found that there were additional disclosure documents that required completion.

The county legislature’s final approval is listed as “in progress” on the filed paperwork.

County officials did not immediately respond to The Point’s queries regarding why the contract was only filed with the clerk’s office on Wednesday.

Sullivan & Cromwell will now be handling the county’s appeal on the Hofstra case, after a state Supreme Court judge last week voided the lease agreement between the county and Las Vegas Sands for the land surrounding Nassau Coliseum. The ruling found that the county violated open meetings and environmental review laws.

Meanwhile, the state’s casino gaming licensing process continues.

A spokesman for the state Gaming Commission told The Point that gaming officials received 450 questions from possible bidders in the second round of questions and that there’s no timetable for when they’ll be answered.

In the first round, gaming officials received 613 questions and took 208 days to respond. At that same pace, it would take state officials 152.5 days to answer the second round of questions, which were due Oct. 6. That would mean the answers would be posted on March 6, 2024.

After the second round of answers is posted, would-be bidders will have 30 days to submit their applications.

— Randi F. Marshall randi.marshall@newsday.com

Pencil Point

GOP in disarray

Credit: PoliticalCartoons.com/Dave Whamond

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/nationalcartoons

Reference Point

Transitions, smooth and turbulent

The Newsday editorial titled "The Transition" from Nov. 16, 1968.

The Newsday editorial titled "The Transition" from Nov. 16, 1968.

After presidential elections come transitions — most, but certainly not all, of the time. Fifty-five years ago, Newsday’s editorial board assessed the transition underway and opined, “Never before has the transition between the outgoing and incoming President of the United States gone so smoothly, and certainly never before has there been so remarkable an accord on the conduct of foreign affairs at a time of continuing crisis.”

The transition was from Lyndon B. Johnson to Richard M. Nixon, and the crises to which the board referred were the Vietnam War and continuing Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union. In a piece that appeared on Nov. 16, 1968, called “The Transition,” the board wrote that Johnson has achieved “consensus” with Nixon on those two problems as well as “a host of smaller problems that might make trouble between now and Inauguration Day.”

The important thing, the board noted, was that the world was now on notice that “American foreign policy will not turn suddenly from its present course.” And that development, the board underscored, “is an impressive contrast to some of the frosty transitions of the past.”

Newsday noted the Depression-era transition from Herbert Hoover to Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, but modern readers will no doubt reference a more recent transition for which “frosty” was an understatement: the period between Joe Biden’s election victory in 2020 and his inauguration in 2021, which featured a would-be insurrection designed to reverse the election outcome and keep Donald Trump in the White House.

Perhaps that kind of nightmare was the inspiration for the cartoon that accompanied the editorial. Drawn by future Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Darcy, it featured a newspaper editor at his desk covered with headlines such as “LBJ-NIXON HARMONY!”, “SMOOTH TRANSITION OF POWER” and “UNITY STATEMENTS.” He’s talking on the phone and the caption underneath reads, “Tomorrow’s headline? How about … ‘Hell Freezes Over’ ”.

The 1968 transition, incidentally, was not primarily a Washington affair. It had a distinct New York element to it. Nixon’s transition headquarters was the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan, which had the advantage of being near Nixon’s personal residence at the time and his campaign headquarters. And amid that period, on Dec. 22, Nixon walked his daughter Julie down the aisle at Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan when she married David Eisenhower, grandson of the man with whom Nixon served as vice president, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The officiant was the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, the renowned proponent of positive thinking, which Newsday’s editorial board likely would have applauded. But Peale also had a connection to that darkest of presidential transitions: Nine years later, at the same Marble Collegiate Church, he officiated when a Czechoslovakian émigré named Ivana Zelníčková married Donald Trump.

— Michael Dobie michael.dobie@newsday.com, Amanda Fiscina-Wells amanda.fiscina-wells@newsday.com

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