- Matt Hegarty reports in the Form that support in the State Assembly for Governor Spitzer's NYRA recommendation seems assured with an unqualified endorsement by Speaker Sheldon Silver.
"I support Gov. Spitzer's determination that, with strengthened oversight, a reinvigorated and reconstituted New York Racing Association is the best option for the future of the state's Thoroughbred racing franchise." [DRF]Of course, the Republican controlled Senate is where the opposition will come from, and a committee meeting is scheduled for Sept 12. However, though Senator Bruno's initial reaction was skeptical, I found it interesting that he told Tom Precious, reporting for Bloodhorse.com:
“[NYRA] worked with a model that doesn’t work. So, I don’t want to be critical of the people who run NYRA because this goes back over the years.."As Precious notes, Bruno has spoken of others playing a role as well, and he also said in the interview, which took place on Sept 4:
“I think they have done a lot of good things and they deserve recognition for that,....The question is what role does everybody play. I think NYRA has to play a role, and a major role, of what goes on.’’
“We’ve got some of the major players in the whole world taking an interest,’’ he said Sept. 4, noting that among them are Magna Entertainment, Churchill Downs, and Woodbine.C'mon Joe, you can't be serious about Magna! Frankie's folly is wearing their failure on their sleeve these days, announcing their intent to sell two more racetracks yesterday.
In any event, reading today's state capitol report in the New York Times, one wonders how the legislators will ever get around to seriously addressing this issue before the end of the year. The atmosphere in Albany is so acrimonious that a date for legislators to return to Albany has not yet been set, slipping from September to October to “to be announced.” And once they do, there are obviously more pressing matters to be attended to first.
Some Senate Republicans are in town however to start their myriad of inquiries related to the governor. One such Committee (with a long name) is to question Inspector General Kristine Hamann today. Ms. Hamann, as you may recall, did quite a thorough job with her integrity report on the franchise bidders. But her investigation of the Troopergate affair? Er, not so much. In fact, she simply dropped it when she found that her direct supervisor, the secretary to the governor Richard Baum, was involved. Republicans want to know why she quietly suspended the probe rather than alerting Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and transferring her all-important subpoena power to him. Neither the governor nor any of his aides were compelled by subpoena to testify. Some Republicans believe that Ms. Hamann had the authority to convey her authority to do so to Cuomo, and thus see the whole affair as a whitewash.
However, buried in the Times article - an indication of just how the pendulum has swung to the Albany GOP these days - is this little tidbit regarding another investigation:
Mr. Bruno has his own troubles. In another part of Albany on Thursday, the Temporary Commission on Lobbying will hold a public session; among the cases they are investigating are flights provided to Mr. Bruno by Jared E. Abbruzzese, a friend whose business interests have received state grants given at Mr. Bruno’s discretion.Abbruzzese, as you may recall, provided those flights to Bruno while he was a director of Friends of New York Racing, the organization which Ms. Hamman's integrity report concluded paved the way for its successor organization Empire Racing under the false pretense of being non-partisan, and after the formation of Empire as well. Abbruzzese has been said to be a driving force in the suspicious transformation of Friends to Empire, and, according to a report in the Albany Times Union last year, led the effort to raise $3 million to help fund the latter. The lobbying commission wants to know if Abbruzzese was attempting to use his friendship and tangled business relationships with the Senate Majority Leader to influence his views on the franchise. Er, what do you think? Seems pretty Evident to me.
Mr. Abbruzzese has also been a central figure in a continuing inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into Mr. Bruno’s outside business interests.