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The Dependency Of Coliseum Bond’s Independent Analysis

July 27, 2011

Many of the supporters of the Coliseum $400 million bond vote point to the economic analysis prepared by Camoin Associates  As proof of its validity, they proclaim its independence.  The eighteenth century French philosopher and writer Voltaire said of the Holy Roman Empire that it was “not Holy, not Roman and not an Empire.”  The independent economic analysis by Camoin is not independent and not analysis.  In my view, it seems to be advocacy advertising in academic language.

It is curious that the Camoin analysis is not on their website. But not to worry, the county has it on theirs.  Camoin’s study is entitled  “Uniondale Hub Redevelopment Project Economic Analysis.”  The cover page indicates “Prepared for Nassau County IDA,” which means paid for by Nassau County Industrial Development Agency.

It rests almost entirely on information provided by the Islanders and Nassau County government.  There is no independent research. No market analysis of the customers for the Coliseum and the minor-league ballpark.

By contrast, see Comptroller Maragos report  which is commenably very comprehensive, and raises a number of important issues.

Even Camoin could not swallow every rosy assumption made by the plan’s proponents such as the higher than most teams Islander ticket price.

What does Camoin Associates say to prospective clients like the Nassau County IDA?

Private investment is essential to economic development. In
today’s economic climate, public incentives are crucial to creating a
competitive business environment. Camoin Associates assists economic
development organizations and local governments in establishing public
financing and tax incentive programs to foster private investment. We also
advise the businesses and developers that utilize such programs. The firm
brings working knowledge of an array of federal, state and local incentive
programs to the table and advises its clients on using these programs to meet
their objectives.

Over the past 27 years, Rob Camoin has developed a comprehensive
understanding of the business investment decision making process and the
important role that public and quasi-public sector organizations play in
creating healthy business environments. In 1999, Rob formed Camoin Associates
to assist businesses and developers in pursuing public financing and tax
incentives for expansion and industrial development projects and to help
economic development organizations and local governments foster private
investment. Since then, Camoin Associates has assisted hundreds of private
businesses in securing millions of dollars in financing and tax credits, and
has guided more than 30 local communities through strategic planning processes
with the goal of strengthening their competitiveness in an increasingly global

In other words, their business model is helping government and private business to enter into these relationships where government spends money on behalf of private businesses.  See  “…Rob formed Camoin Associates to assist businesses and developers in pursuing public financing and tax incentives for expansion and industrial development projects and to help economic development organizations and local governments foster private investment.”

Does anyone really expect them to produce a report that says “This project makes no sense, endangers the local government finances and is based on unrealistic assumptions”?   As they are producing economic analysis for hire, they cannot be faulted for not considering the moral aspects of taking money from some people to give to others.  Will the Nassau IDA and others around the state or country come to them for their imprimatur of “independent economic analysis” if their conclusions do not match what the client wants? How naive can people be?

I have had a lot of experience in fighting eminent domain for private gain (see Institute for Justice  In New York, the property to be condemned is appraised by an appraiser.  Who picks the appraiser? The agency seeking the condemnation.   What effect do you suppose that has?   They may be hiring appraisers again and again.  The victims are unlikely to need one again.

Camoin only presents: Coliseum or nothing.   They do not consider alternatives or consequences.  Nor do they examine the experiences with other government-owned or financed sports facilities.  See my article, “What Is Seen and What Is Unseen In Coliseumscam

I am not saying that Camoin lied in any respect.  What I am saying is that their business model requires them to promote government efforts in economic development.  Let us not rely on them to be independent.  They are dependent on governments and politically-favored businesses.  The voters can declare their independence by voting NO on August 1st.  -30-


Richard Cooper






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