- All of the charges in the absurd 'fat jockeys' case against Braulio Baeza and Mario Sclafani have been dismissed.
After five days of testimony, county Judge Jerry Scarano ruled that the state Attorney General's case against Mario Sclafani and Braulio Baeza was based on faulty evidence, including a scale at Saratoga Race Course that was old and not calibrated. [Albany Times Union]The state insisted on pressing on with the sham charges not only once, but twice - even after a juror in the first case correctly called it out. I think that NYRA owes it to the exonerated defendants to reinstate them with back pay, and that the Governor, who initiated the case when he was Attorney General, owes them an apology. (Fat chance.)
- The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments that falsified petition signatures that helped get the slots referendum on the ballot should nullify the results that have led to slots in Broward County. The case has long been festering under the surface, and, in theory, could cause those racinos to be shuttered. A lower court judge had ruled that the results of the vote made the question of invalid signatures moot; but an appeals court disagreed. The matter of whether there were invalid signatures - possibly a significant number of them - does not seem to be the main issue, at least at this point. Instead, the questions are:
Can the signatures be challenged even after election supervisors have certified them, and after the ballot has been printed and absentee voting has begun? And can an amendment to the state Constitution be invalidated post-election if a portion of the signatures on the petition that authorized the vote turn out to be fraudulent? [Miami Herald]An attorney representing gambling interests told the paper: "In the long run, this is much ado about very little....We can rest assured that parimutuels will continue to operate." Given the fact that facilities have already been built and opened at much expense, I'd expect that, one way or another, he's right. But this must be a nervous time for those racinos now nonetheless.
Voters in Miami-Dade County will have a second chance to approve the machines in January for its pari-mutuels, including Calder.