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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Back to the Terrific Trio (Plus One)

- We're back to the original Fab Four in New York - or perhaps the Terrific Trio Plus One, depending on how you consider Capital Play Ltd. Catskills OTB joined Steve Wynn in basically telling the state to go shove their integrity reviews. Gov. Spitzer professed to open up the process to new players, but then imposed conditions that were difficult, if not impossible to meet. Considering that the so-called Thoroughbred Racing-NY couldn't whip up any kind of website in the two weeks of its existence, it seems unlikely that they would be able, in just a few days, to present the exhaustive information which was requested. The data that the state is demanding normally takes months to assemble, some recipients said. [Albany Times Union]

As explained by Catskill OTB President Donald Groth, for his company it was a matter of "principle of conduct."

He said OTB, as a public benefit corporation, already reports regularly to the state Racing and Wagering Board, state comptroller and state Tax Commission. Its profits are allocated to the state, counties, New York City, racetracks and breeders.

"Catskill OTB could not agree to such a large payment of public monies for a report which would still further certify Catskill's well studied integrity," a press release said. [Saratogian]
The large payments are the $100,000 retainers requested from each entity for the cost of the exhaustive integrity review that includes interviews, background checks and record checks of each entity and its principals; all the principals are also required to submit their last three years tax returns. The cost to the firms are expected to far exceed the retainer amount.

I don't really know what they expect to find other than some possible ghosts in the closet that aren't really relevant to the situation at hand (though they certainly could be portrayed as such by politicians or by the PR machines of competing bidders). This is just political grandstanding, plain and simple, which threatens to obscure some of the more relevant issues regarding possible attempts to illegally influence public officials. Just because Jeff Perlee may have paid his taxes properly or never been arrested for a DWI doesn't mean that Empire has conducted itself with integrity with respect to its morphing from Friends of New York, or the conduct of Jared Abbruzzese.


Green Mtn Punter said...

Alan, this is just plain infuriating, that's what it is. Spitzer & Co going through the motions to make it look good to the average, "don't have a clue" "voter", the classic pol CYA, never mind that they drove away a very qualified candidate in Steve Wynn, the kind of new, entrepreneurial blood that the NY racing industry desperately needs. When are they going to discover that their integrity jihad is having just the opposite effect that is intended! So, we end up with a company full of goody two shoes who have never received a parking ticket, pulled the lever on a slot machine, or plunked down a few hundred on a Pick 6? Earth to Spitzer: These are people who are going to operate racetracks and a casino operation, not people trying out for entry into Heaven!

a. rose said...

Alan, You are feeling sorry for Steve Haskin in relation to his never-ending pre-derby picks. Well, I'm beginning to feel sorry for you in your never-ending "who's gonna take over the NY racing franchise picks?" Why not take the same attitude towards that pick as you ask Mr. H to take and just "let it go"? At least Mr. Haskin is getting paid for his picks. From my point of view whoever gets the franchise (except for NYCHA) is still a "first time starter" in NY. And everyone is initially in the dark as to predicting that firster's later form. Being on the left end of the political spectrum, I always liked NYCHA's non-profit status. But rooting for them at this point, based on their performance in recent years, would be like rooting for the USSR in its twilight years.