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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Bruno in Right Place, Right Time

- James T. Madore, reporting in Newsday, writes that the ultimate decision on the racing franchise probably will be tied to the resolution of unrelated issues such as the overhaul of campaign finance laws, $200 million in property-tax rebates for seniors and $1 billion in building projects.

These issues and others have been in limbo since relations soured between Democrat Spitzer and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick), whom gubernatorial aides tried to discredit with negative publicity.
"At this point, in the run for the roses, we are not even in the back stretch," said Russ Haven of the New York Public Interest Research Group..."I expect the Legislature will have a completely independent take on this," Haven said.

Bruno, who raises horses on his farm near Albany, is passionate about racing. He's a regular at the Saratoga track.

"All I want, bottom line, is the best racing in the world here in New York State," Bruno said last month. "It's not about gambling or the ... [lottery terminals]. It's about having the best racing, best breeding and the best purses." [Newsday]
And here it strikes me that with all the angst over the last few years over how racing's interests would be properly represented in the back rooms of Albany during this process, the fact is that one of the three men in the room of all back rooms, whatever we may otherwise think of him, is a professed enthusiast of the sport. Given the way this whole affair has played out, with the decision passing on to a new governor who seems particularly detached and disinterested in the sport, and given Bruno's present adversarial relationship with that governor, I find myself taking some comfort in his presence there. Suddenly, I find myself wishing that the federal investigation against him would take another few months or so to wrap up. (Notice I didn't go so far as to suggest that it be dropped.)

Is the Senator's enthusiasm for the sport genuine? Well, I dunno, maybe. He has horses and I saw him presenting in the winner's circle twice last week. But it doesn't even matter. Even if his embrace of the industry is all politics and he's merely appealing to his Saratoga Springs constituency, he still stands to defend its interests against anything the governor may propose. In fact, given the toxic atmosphere between the two, he'll go out of his way to do so. Already, the NY Daily News reports today that according to its sources, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have both indicated that Aqueduct's racing track will remain open.

- The Toddster spoke to the Albany Times-Union about his subpar meeting at Saratoga:
"The weakness has been in our maiden 2-year-old program, which is usually our strength....Some years you're going to have lean years in that category, and I guess that's the case. I guess if we can knock off the $500,000's we'll try to work on the $50 (thousands) later."


allinfun said...

I do think that Bruno's enthusiasm for racing is real, at least to a point. Not sure if you'd ever see him at the Big A. Obviously it's political as well. It's a big industry in his district. I do think he has racings best interest some where in there. Hopefully that's one person that understands how things work. I've always found it funny how these things are decided any way. First you have to get a panel together to make a recommendation. On that panel is the new mayor of Saratoga. She has to hire consultants because she doesn't know anything about it. That says something right there. They make their pick and next thing you know, new governor maybe new recommendations. Then keep everyone hanging and let NYRA file for bankruptcy. Then maybe the governor makes a decision and it eventually gets to the three men in a room stage. Business as usual. People think the Iraqi government is incompetent. They should spend a month in Albany.

Anonymous said...

Senator Bruno's enthusiasm is authentic. He is one of the only elected officials who religiously attended to the races and follows the sport. He has been attending long before he became Majority Leader.

If anyone reads the Troopergate materials carefully, they will note that one of the State helicopter trips propbed by Spitzer's minions included a visit by Senator Bruno to Aqueduct Racetrack.

At least Saratoga Mayor Keehn was smart enough to realize she needed assistance, unlike many others who simply declare themselves experts on the basis of being elected to a position. Hard to appropriately criticize someone for doing the right thing.

Finally, no one let NYRA file for bankruptcy. NYRA sought to stymie the franchise award process by interjecting bankruptcy proceedings into the mix. A bulk of their debts were owed to the State, an entity that wasn't collecting. They chose bankruptcy in an effort to prevent the franchise from being awarded to someone else. Hard to fault them for doings whatever they could to maintain control. Likewise, hard to fault the State for NYRA's decision to file.

Anonymous said...

My talks with merchants, restauranteurs, and other locals over the week-end reconfirms that they are solidly behind NYRA and Joe Bruno. As several previous commenters have also pointed out, Joe Bruno is for real when it comes to horses, which he genuinely cares about, and the racing industry which is so key to his district. Joe is still trying to mend fences with NYRA- remember he looked like he was in bed with Empire when the bids were coming together last year. But a year is a long time in politics, as in life, so things have changed. With his key constituents solidly in favor of NYRA, and Joe being a wise politician and above all a survivor, NYRA is a lock. In this post Alan has grudgingly acknowledged Bruno's skills as a pol, friend of the racing industry, and legislative leader as we come down the stretch, or perhaps we're just giving the devil his due? Time will tell but I actually feel a lot better about the franchise this year on Getaway Day than I did last year. /S/ Green Mtn Punter