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James Dolan will take booze away from MSG if facial recognition technology gets blocked

James Dolan is back at it again. The man who once had New York Knicks’ legend Charles Oakley arrested in the middle of a New York Knicks game now has a new vendetta. And this time, it is with an even more powerful adversary: the state of New York.

To provide some background, Madison Square Garden (MSG) has facial recognition technology placed at the entrances of the arena to ensure that no lawyers who have sued Dolan or his company can get inside.

The New York State Attorney General and State Legislative Officials have been trying to pass a bill that would forbid Dolan from participating in these discriminatory tactics. But nothing substantial has materialized on that front yet.

The problem here lies with New York’s State Liquor Authority (SLA), who, in November, reminded MSG officials that they can’t ban people from entering the arena.

While MSG is theoretically a privately-owned entity, since it receives its liquor license from the state, it, in turn, is acting like a state actor. Therefore it must offer the same constitutional protections as a state organization. One of those constitutional protections includes not discriminating against individuals.

So, naturally, instead of quietly abiding by this legal standard, Dolan announced his intent for vengeance yesterday during a 17-minute interview on New York’s Fox affiliate.

“The SLA is way, way beyond their skis … they’re being extremely aggressive and they’re saying, ‘We’re going to take away your liquor license.’ So I have a little surprise for them,” Dolan said. “What we’re going to do, right, is we’re going to pick a night, maybe a Rangers game, and we’re going to shut down all the liquor and alcohol in the building.

“It’s like something out of ‘The Godfather.’ It’s like, ‘It’s only business.’ It’s not only business, and if you sue us, we’re going to tell you not to come,” Dolan continued. “If you’re grandstanding with the press, et cetera, I’m going to tell you: Go ahead, take away my liquor license. People are still going to come to the games.”

That’s right! To get revenge on the SLA for threatening to take his liquor license away, Dolan is going to shut down the sale of all alcohol in the arena. You really can’t make this stuff up.

Fortunately, the SLA is frightened by Dolan’s remarks, issuing a statement of their own on Thursday.

“All establishments licensed to traffic in alcoholic beverages by the State Liquor Authority are subject to and are expected to comply with the same laws and obligations, whether they are a small business or a multi-billion dollar corporation,” SLA spokesman Joshua D. Heller said.

The statement paints the same picture we outlined earlier: if you are receiving a license from a state actor, you are required to operate like a state actor.

Brad Hoylman-Sigal, a New York State senator who represents part of Manhattan, was far less cordial with his words, calling Dolan “the poster child of privilege, as someone who inherited his wealth and receives an annual $43 million dollar tax break from New Yorkers.”

He went on to say that, “New York shouldn’t allow petty tyrants to impose their warped fantasies on the public while reaping millions each year from taxpayer subsidies.”

“I’m grateful to both the New York State Attorney General and the Manhattan District Attorney for launching inquiries into Dolan’s vindictive business practices intended to silence his critics.”



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