- As Charles Hayward steps up the pressure on the state legislature to resolve the franchise issue - in its favor of course - Joe Bruno signaled that he is - believe it or not - actually communicating with the Spitzer Administration and the state Assembly in an attempt to get the issue resolved once and for all. And by Thanksgiving, no less!
When asked if the Spitzer administration has been holding firm to its NYRA recommendation, Bruno said: “No, no. no. I think that they’re open. They’re realistic. They understand that this is not going to happen the way they presented it. And, I give him credit for the people around him. They’re very open and they’re communicating in a more realistic way.’’ [Bloodhorse]Bruno is still talking of involving more than just NYRA in the franchise, but refused to comment on whether his idea to create a new state authority is still on the table.
As reader Late Scratch pointed out, a Spitzer spokesperson was quoted in Newsday talking about a seamless transition from the current NYRA franchise to whoever gets the new one. On its face, that statement, and the one by Bruno, might indicate that other bidders are being considered to run racing after December 31. I don't really believe that to be the case however, unless Spitzer has suddenly decided to go to the mat with NYRA on the land issue, a prospect I find quite unlikely at this late stage. Bruno may be attempting to get a piece of the slots for one or more of his benefactors, or seeking a variant of his proposal; perhaps some new panel, loaded with his own appointees, to oversee the operation. I also wouldn't be the least bit surprised if he's attempting to use the situation and the possibility of a shutdown to gain concessions in matters that are totally unrelated.
I for one will be shocked if, on January 1, the Big A is not open for business with NYRA still running the show. Bennett Liebman told Newsday that "Closing off racing could potentially be a very risky political strategy" because of the backlash. But at whom would that backlash be directed? With Spitzer and Sheldon Silver firmly in favor of NYRA, it wouldn't take any dirty tricks or State Police itineraries to portray Bruno as the one responsible. For that reason, I believe that the Senate Majority Leader will have to back down, especially in the face of what would inevitably be pressure from his own constituency in Saratoga. And I think that, with these more conciliatory comments, we're already seeing that scenario starting to play out.