- Steven Crist, writing in the Form, makes a good point about Governor Spitzer's stated intention to announce the new, or old, franchise holder on September 4.
This augurs well for the incumbent since the Saratoga meet ends Sept. 3 and, especially with spectacular purse increases in effect, there is every reason to think this is going to be a feel-good meeting of world-class racing and strong business. So unless the NYRA trustees are reliably photographed beating up little old ladies on Union Avenue over the next six weeks, it seems unlikely that Spitzer will call for a new track operator the day after Saratoga closes. [DRF]If the meeting is as successful as NYRA anticipates, hopefully including a classic Travers, the announcement may be more coronation than drama.
However, Spitzer got beaten up himself today, and not by the NYRA trustees nor by little old ladies on Union Avenue. In a stunning development, his fellow Democrat and heretofore political ally Andrew Cuomo, his successor as Attorney General, has issued a report that exonerates Senator Bruno for his use of state aircraft on trips that combined state business with political fundraising, and blasts the governor's office for gathering and releasing the information for political purpose. Quoting from the report: [large PDF file]
The Governor’s Office planned to obtain information concerning Senator Bruno’s use of state aircraft for the purpose of giving this information to the media. Under the pretext of responding to a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, the Governor’s liaison caused the Acting Superintendent of the State Police to (1) create documents detailing where the State Police had driven Senator Bruno, and (2) report details of Senator Bruno’s requests for ground transportation, upcoming schedules, and changes to those schedules. This conduct deviated from State Police standard operating procedures and past practices, and was not required by FOIL. [via New York Times]Though the report clears Bruno of any wrongdoing in a legal sense, it took a swipe at the lax regulations that allow the Senator to combine political fund-raising with his state business paid for with taxpayer money.
The current state aircraft policy is overly permissive and porous and allows for an abuse of taxpayer funds. The policy should be changed to provide stricter, clearer guidance concerning when state aircraft may be used in connection with official state business, and under what circumstances, if any, official use of state aircraft may be combined with political or personal use.Spitzer responded by doing what any self-respecting chief executive would do under the circumstances: he blamed his employees, disciplining two aides, and denied knowing anything of their motives (a tactic I imagine he learned from the CEO's of the companies he prosecuted himself as AG). And he took off his Steamroller Helmet for the Hat of Contrition.
"I apologize to Senator Bruno, as I did earlier today.....I apologize to the people of the state of New York." [AP]- Don't expect to see the Gov at Saratoga on opening day, and not because he'll be engaged in damage control (though he very well may still be). Calling the four box seats set aside for him an "inappropriate perk," Spitzer urged NYRA to utilize them for other purposes. State Senate Majority Leader [Bruno] reportedly has no plans to give up his complementary box. [WCAX-TV] And nor should he as far as I'm concerned. Y'know, it wouldn't kill the governor to get in his limo and make the 30 minute drive up to Saratoga, if just to show his face and demonstrate that he cares just an itsy bitsy teeny weenie bit about the sport and industry about which thousands of workers and devoted fans are depending on him to make the correct decision about its future. Shame on him!
- And Todd Schrmmppff and a full TVG crew will abandon their post at Del Mar and broadcast live from Saratoga during the opening week (and no, I have not been asked to replace them out west). G. Stevens, Simon Bray, and Jill Byrne will also be on hand; as Cristina Olivares is sadly left behind. Let's see if she turns up at Emerald Downs again.