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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Joe Tries to Change the Subject

- Senator Bruno called a press conference to complain about what he sees as a lack of progress in his negotiations with Governor Spitzer and Assembly Speaker Silver on settling the franchise issue before the Dec 31 deadline. But the New York Times was having none of it. Bruno Won’t Talk About Role at Firm reads the headline of their account of the testy session with reporters. That refers to the story that the Paper of Record reported over the weekend; that Bruno is employed by Wright Investors’ Service, a Connecticut-based investment firm at which some state unions, including a number of local branches in and around Mr. Bruno’s upstate district, have tens of millions of dollars invested.

It's the latest appearance, at the very least, of conflict between Bruno's role as Senate Majority Leader and his outside business interests. Bruno must be quite an energetic guy for his, or any age. Leading his Senate Majority, flying around in state helicopters, hitting the punching bag at the gym, sitting in his box at Saratoga, spewing profanity at the Governor, launching investigations....and he has the time to conduct so much personal business as well! What the hell does he do for Wright Investors anyway ? Well, we don't know, because neither the company nor Bruno would specify beyond a vague description of "business development."

Presumably that does not mean using his influence in Albany to persuade and encourage unions to invest their monies at Wright, from whom he's been collecting a paycheck since the mid-90's. The Times notes that Mr. Bruno has cultivated ties to labor unions that are unusually close for a Republican, and has become personally involved in advocating for their positions. But Bruno as usual denied any impropriety, noting that he has "been accused of nothing wrong, not ethically, not morally and not legally.” Well, I guess it depends on who is doing the accusing. I guess the liberal rags like the Times and Times-Union don't count in his mind.

Regarding the franchise, Bruno's comments belie the impression given by some recent news stories that an agreement is near. With the Governor in the city for a Monday night fundraiser (with the Head Chef on staff in the kitchen), Bruno attempted to shift the blame for any delay on Spitzer and Sheldon Silver.

"I'm saying to this Governor, get your priorities straight. I'm saying to the Speaker, get your priorities straight. We are at the finish line. This is the last furlong of a race here in this state. The last furlong. I don't know how long the race has been, it's been one of the longest races that I know of, we've been going on three years trying to get it done.” [Capital News 9]
But the issue no longer revolves around which entity will operate the franchise, as Bruno has apparently accepted that it will be NYRA. And Tom Precious reports in Bloodhorse that Spitzer has quietly elicited the resignation of the NYRA Board of Directors, one of Bruno's main demands. “We can certainly live with something like that,’’ Bruno said of a reconstituted NYRA board.

However, the Senator still objects to the 30 year length of the extension, and wants NYRA to give up control of establishing simulcasting agreements, as well as their tote and marketing operations.
Allies of NYRA in Albany, however, say such an idea would be unworkable by taking major decision-making – and likely money – out of NYRA’s hands for such lucrative components such as simulcasting. [Bloodhorse]
That would be like, say, an investment company giving up its lucrative business from powerful NY state unions. VLT's at Belmont has emerged a key sticking point, as Silver appears to have dug in on this issue, one in which he doesn't appear to have any apparent vested interest other than the fact that the other two guys support it. It's probably merely a bargaining chip to be played in a grand deal involving numerous issues at the end of the year. And in fact, Silver has said that the franchise is not a top legislative priority.

In a [long] story on Spitzer in this week's New Yorker, Bruno called Silver the “biggest wimp in the world.” “He says I called him a wimp and I did...You can't be sensitive in this business. Step up. Show leadership.” [Journal News] And Bruno told reporters that it's been “three or four months" since he had a "substantive" conversation with Spitzer.
“His priorities are illegal aliens about to have licenses so they, some of them, can go terrorize people and go into public buildings and planes and go get guns." [NY Times]
Yeah Joe, that's just what the Governor wanted, I'm sure. It's a wonder that anything gets done when you read idiotic, and in the latter case, xenophobic bluster like that. But Bruno has his constituency in Saratoga to answer to, and he acknowledged that that puts him in a weakened position. “Maybe it’s [Spitzer and Silver] jamming me on a personal level." They'd be fools not to take advantage of that, and Bruno knows it. So despite the increasing enmity and harsh talk, the three will manage to get something done on the franchise before the end of the year. It's still in the bag.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the N.Y. Times is a Liberal Rag.

A newspaper is not suppose to be agenda driven,but the N.Y.Times is.
So,we don't really know the truth.We know what the N.Y.Times wants us to believe,but not the truth.

Do you think Governor Spitzer or Speaker Silver know what a furlong is?

Anonymous said...

Alan, sometimes I think based on your politics that you are a part of the "destroy Bruno conspiracy." Are you familiar with the particulars surrounding the formation of the Spitzer and NYRA relationship, that go back to when the Governor was NY's top cop? It's obvious you don't care for Bruno personally, but take a good close look at who you are blindly supporting and the tactics they have used for their own self serving purposes.

Alan Mann said...

A "destroy Bruno conspiracy?" With all due respect, Bruno brings his trouble upon himself without help from any conspirators. Some of his conflicts are so outrageous and brazen that they can't help but make news, whether it's in the Times or elsewhere. He's not under investigation by the FBI for no reason. And yes, I'm well aware of the formation of the Spitzer/NYRA relationship. And I think that I've, over the last two years, formulated my opinion and stance on this in a logical manner, often thinking out loud on these web pages. So I hardly think it's fair to characterize me as "blindly supporting" anyone, despite my admitted and obvious political bias. I've blasted Spitzer just as adamantly when it was warranted.

Teresa said...

With all due respect to everyone commenting, no one with any brains could think that anyone on either side of the aisle has handled this well. No one involved has reason to be proud of his behavior, and both Bruno and Spitzer have acted without any sincere consideration for the people who make their livings working at the racetrack. While all of us may be inclined to bring our political affinities to the conversation, no one could seriously say that either Bruno or Spitzer has acted better, or in more good faith, or more ethically, than the other.

steve in nc said...

Spitzer has been no consistent ally of NYRA -- he helped build his profile by attacking NYRA as AG.

And anon #1, I share your skepticsm about what I read in the papers. But do you read your favorite rags critically, too?

If you're going to take that attitude with the Times, then you will have to totally discount the NY Post's article today headlined "NYRA Load of Horse $#!@"

Obviously they have an agenda, right? Should we discredit them because of that? Only if their info is wrong.

They used an unnamed source to accuse NYRA of using bookkeeping tricks to take money owed to NY State. Supposedly, the info is in a to-be-released Comptroller's Office audit, but if you read closely, you'll see no indication that the source is in the Comptroller's office.

The timing of the article, with no abiility for the other side to respond since the audit, if there is one hasn't been released, smells very fishy to me.

But sometimes, facts are facts, and if NYRA's been cooking the books, more power to the Post & Bruno.

But that cuts both ways. The Bush administration has proven to be factually wrong in its justification for invading Iraq. And it is now telling us that Iran is a threat, despite the entire US intelligence community getting together to declare otherwise in an unprecendented publc contradiction of a sitting president. (Or was this too something invented by the Times for it's agenda?)

The NY Post gave it's front page to Bush today to say that Iran is still a threat -- reality be damned. If he says the sky is red, the Post will declare that anyone without rose colored glasses is a terrorist.

Anon, everyone is gaming us for their agendas. But the solution isn't to dismiss anything said by someone whose worldview you don't share. I doubt there's much any of us can do to influence the racing franchise issue. But we can keep our kids from being sent around the world to die again for a lie.

Alan Mann said...

That Post story doesn't seem worth the paper it's written on, for reasons Steve stated. In addition, without absolving NYRA if what the Post says about cooking books is true, I would hardly call $11 million over two years a "bombshell" considering the amounts of money that have been loaned and lost.

Anonymous said...

Agree that the Post leans right and the Times leans left and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
But with Alan it always comes down on the left,so you have to question Alan's agenda.
The N.Y.Times has been losing Circulation for years, their stock has nosedived,They lay people off every year and not just because of the internet.
If the Times went main strem they would see their circulation increase and stocks would rise.
but their agenda is more important than the truth.

Steve said..
But that cuts both ways. The Bush administration has proven to be factually wrong in its justification for invading Iraq.

I notice you didn't mention Bill or Hillary.Both were in favor of it and of course Hillary voted for it.


"And it is now telling us that Iran is a threat, despite the entire US intelligence community getting together to declare otherwise in an unprecendented publc contradiction of a sitting president. (Or was this too something invented by the Times for it's agenda?)"

Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
Do you think that had anything to do with the war in Iraq.I think so.

How about Lybia?They gave up the Nukes!

There has been a lot of mess to clean up after 8yrs.of your boy Bill Clinton.

There's is a lot of good news out there,but you wont find it at the N.Y Times.It's a shame.

Anonymous said...

Albany is the most corrupt place in North America.

The party is irrelevant, no matter where the politics lie Albany will do what is best for themselves or their backers.

Spitzer claimed to be riding in on his white horse to clean up the place and instead got blown up by the more experienced thieves.

Call me cynical, but I just can not help but believe that all of these delays are orchestrated for one and only one purpose, to extract as much money as possible from the wannabe participants.

The only thing Spitzer cared about, besides lining his war chest, was getting the tracks onto the state's books so he can claim a surplus when he runs again.

For all the press releases, darts thrown, and positioning, this was always destined to be worked out via handshake and a kiss on the cheek in some back room in the middle of the night, with all parties posing in front of the cameras the next morning, a little bleary, proclaiming how democracy works and compromise has resulted in a great deal for the people of NY State.

Industry be damned.

I predict they announce the extension on Friday 12/27.

Teresa said...

I read in the Blood-Horse this afternoon that Bruno still wants to separate racing interests: taking, for instance, control of simulcasting away from the organization that runs the racing.

The only possible explanation for this is that he wants to rewards someone who backs him. It makes no financial sense whatsoever for whoever runs the track to be divorced from the decision-making and profits that come with and from simulcasting.

What is it about this decision that brings out the worst and the stupidity in people?

Anonymous said...

Only that the NYRA can't be trusted to do anything other than writing the condition book and promoting the Graded Stakes program. At all else, the organization has continually failed.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

If the Times went main strem they would see their circulation increase and stocks would rise

Gannett (led by USA Today) is pretty mainstream and I see its stock has fallen from roughly 100 a share to roughly 36 a share ikn the past few years. Maybe they need to go more mainstream? Or maybe newspaper stocks are in the toilet.

Alan Mann said...

>>But with Alan it always comes down on the left, so you have to question Alan's agenda.

My agenda, or at least the only one I'm conscious of, is that people be honest. That will of course manifest itself in different opinions depending on one's political persuasion, which in my case is obviously to the left. But I think if one went back through the archives, they'd see that I've been consistent in insisting on honesty as the bottom line, whether they be on the left or the right.

That's especially the case when it comes to starting a war. The commenter suggests that the invasion of Iraq persuaded Iran and Libya to give up their weapons. Probably true in the case of the latter. And while I'd actually think that Iran would me more determined to maintain its program, I'm willing to concede the point too, because it doesn't matter as far as I'm conerned. Some day, when it finally gets the will and the political climate to do so, the US Senate is finally going to get to that Phase 2 of its investigation of pre-war intelligence, the one into whether the Bush Admimistration intentionally ignored and misused intelligence in order to lie us into a war. Ahd you know what? Just as I knew that there were no WMD's, I knew there were no chemical weapons, I knew that chaos, not welcoming Iraqis would ensue and that civil war will follow, it's 1-5 that evidence will show that they lied; that the war was nothing but a foreign policy tool, and an experimental one at that. They went to war not because they had to, but because they wanted to (the only memorable thing John Kerry ever said during his campaign except for the fucking idiotic ones that caused him to lose). And just how did I know all of that? I didn't have any NIE reports or daily briefings. Just a gut feeling, I guess. Or maybe they were just horrible liars, as Bush aptly demonstrated during his talk about Iran today.

The matter of the franchise is far less profound of course, but I had no agenda whatsoever at the beginning. I was totally open to Excelsior when they got the Ad Hoc recommendation, and I blasted NYRA for just going through the motions. (In hindsight, they cleverly saved time and resources for more important matters, knowing that, if they were to win the franchise, it would not be through a procedure which was, by its nature, rigged against it.) But Excelsior fell apart, and Empire resorted to their infantile attacks. Empire blew this thing, man. They were full of shit all along, but they had the hype going and were in a good spot, before they sabotaged themselves with their own hypocrisy and cynicism. Some day, their main players are going to look back at some of the asinine things they said and did and shake their heads in disbelief. On the other hand, and while I know there's at least one poster here who disagrees, Charles Hayward and Bill Nader seemed like straight shooters to me. In the honesty department, it was no contest.

As for Bruno, his dishonesty has recently been in full display. When the Choppergate thing first broke, Bruno drew sympathy, even, at first, from me! I have to say that I nailed that baby - as soon as I woke up on a Monday morning and saw quotes from Richard Baum issued the day before, on a Albany(!!!), I knew that Spitzer's office was up to something, and I said so right here; can't find the post right now, but I will. If Bruno was really an advocate of the people, as he claims to be, he would have taken advantage of a weakened chief executive, and gotten things done, and, if not on his terms, certainly closer than he ever could have before. Including the franchise. Instead, he acted like Bush, pissing away his goodwill to start an unnecessary war, in Bruno's case, the vindictive investigations into the affair. Instead of doing the peoples' business, he carried on his own petty partisan politics, just like the bullshit chopper trips he took to NYC in the name of business. He betrayed his constituents, shirked his duty, and showed that his entire existence in Albany at this point in time is one big lie.

(Well? That's what you get for questioning my agenda! :)

Anonymous said...

In less than 10 years there will be a statue of Pres.Bush in downtown Baghdad, similiar to the one the Polish Gov.
gave Pres.Reagen for Liberating eastern Europe.

Alan said..

it's 1-5 that evidence will show that they( Bush Admimistration) lied; that the war was nothing but a foreign policy tool.

The only people that say "Bush Lied" are Rosie O'Donnell,Code pink,Daily Kos,etc...

Alan was the 9-11 a conspiracy?
Was it Bush and Chaney who attacked the twin towers?

Come on Alan,I hope your not with that crowd.

steve in nc said...

Anon, I do share a lot of your disdain for the NY Times, certainly on international issues, and I've never been a fan of Bill nor Hil.

Before the invasion, the Times ran bogus articles by Judith Miller that probably were dictated to her by Dick Chaney (and maybe paid for with my tax money with covert ops funding -- ugh!). I wish the Times was as liberal you've been convinced they are.

Hillary went along with the war too, and recently voted for the bogus rubber stamp on Iran. No guts, smarts or leadership in either case. But that doesn't let Bush/Chaney/Rusmfeld off the hook.

Anon, I know it is really difficult to defend Bush's credibility using actual facts, but the guilt by association stuff doesn't cut it.

You don't have to take my word or that of Code Pink that Bush is full of it. Listen to the regiment of retired generals who have spoken out. And you'd need a regular library branch at this point to house all the books from former Bush officials who have helped expose the administration's scams on the public.

You really believe there'll be a statue of Bush in Baghdad?! Reagan did not invade Eastern Europe. He did not cause thousands and thousands of deaths there and turn a million folks into refugees. Polls show that a solid majority of Iraqis now believe it is A-OK to shoot American soldiers. Ever see a poll like that from Poland in the late 1980s?

When Hans Blix filed his last report of finding no WMDs, Bush could have delared victory, taken credit (justifiably, to an extent) for forcing Saddam to accept UN inspections, kept him in international isolation, and waited for the Iraqis to dump the weakened despot themselves. That would have been analogous to what Reagan did. If he averted war and kept Saddam disarmed, he might have even gotten a Nobel Peace Prize, and who knows, are there any statues of guys without beards in Baghdad?

Instead, the death toll mounts with no end in sight whether we stay or withdraw, and the war, along with interest on the money we've borrowed to pay for it, has cost the average American family about $20,000. You don't have to believe it because a lefty is saying it, but when the bill comes due, you & your kids, along with me & mine, will still have to pay for it. Whether you believe the NY Post when they blame some tax & spend liberal is up to you

Alan Mann said...

>>In less than 10 years there will be a statue of Pres.Bush in downtown Baghdad

Wouldn't be the first one of a war criminal to stand in that city.

Anonymous said...

Alan wrote: "In hindsight, they [NYRA] cleverly saved time and resources for more important matters, knowing that, if they were to win the franchise, it would not be through a procedure which was, by its nature, rigged against it."

Pray tell, how was the procedure 'rigged' against NYRA?

By making them compete for the franchise, instead of having it handed to them?

By making them think about what changes could be made to benefit the facilities, the backstretch workers and the industry in general?

The most disappointing thing about this whole process is that the ad hoc committee bids elicited ideas and commitments for facility infrastructure and programs. The NYRA bankruptcy documents indicate NYRA has little plans to spend any money on these items - $100m over the first five years post-VLT operation.

The lack of commitment and imagination to improving racing is evident. Evident from legislative leaders. Evident from NYRA.

Anonymous said...

I will answer for Alan on the bid, not the lefty propaganda crap.

The bid was rigged against NYRA because its premise was that the State owned the land.

Everyone else included lease payments to the state, something NYRA could never do since it owns the land until it's demise.

Rigged, from day one.

As for the political crap, unfortunately it is a big part of the franchise story.

Alan leans left, note the name of the blog, so things will tilt in that direction, but he has been equally critical of both sides as far as it relates to the question at hand.

I too could do without some of his political jibes, and wish he would not infuse them here, but it's his blog and he can do what he wants with it.

You learn to ignore and keep reading for the excellent information provided on the industry as I have, or move on (no pun).

But lets not let this degenerate into a political blog, there is enough of that crap everywhere else if that is your interest.

Alan Mann said...

>>The bid was rigged against NYRA because its premise was that the State owned the land.

Exactly. Also, given the rigid scoring system and the requirement for all the bidders to detail their "integrity" history (or lack thereof), NYRA was assured of a low score in that critical area due to the past prosecution.

I didn't mean to say "rigged" as a criticism of the Ad Hoc process...perhaps that was the wrong word to use. At least that procedure was methodical and, more importantly, totally open and transparent, a 100% difference from what is going on now.

Anonymous said...

Steve said..

When Hans Blix filed his last report of finding no WMDs, Bush could have delared victory, taken credit (justifiably, to an extent) for forcing Saddam to accept UN inspections, kept him in international isolation, and waited for the Iraqis to dump the weakened despot themselves.

Steve wake up!

Anonymous said...

Such piling on poor Joe Bruno. Check out his website and see how NY's ol' pro operates-it's very enlightening, kudos to his webmaster. Read his biography and look at all of the business he's brought to Rensaelaer and Saratoga Counties. We capitalists over here in the People's Republic of VT are "green" with envy. Joe gets it done- do you really think his constituents are going to blame him for the racing impasse? Alan is right, an interim deal will get done by Dec 31 and then the battle will begin anew in 2008. /S/Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

Come now, let's not digress into making things up.

I see no evidence that NYRA's assertion of land title was held against them by the Ad Hoc Committee. NYRA included de facto lease payments within their bid responses, calling them Payments In Lieu of Lease or PILOL. NYRA was disqualified for their proposed PILOL because they failed to guarantee it.

Integrity was perhaps an misnomer. Past business practices was more appropriate. If I recollect, the past business questions were taken verbatim from the New York State Office of General Services Vendor Responsibility Questionnaire. Hard to argue that the questions were intentionally stacked against NYRA ... since they're applicable to everyone within the State.

Finally, review of the Committee's final report finds NYRA finishing dead last in Proposal Detail, Integrity, Financial Viability, Approach and Managerial Theory and Lease Payment. The only section where they failed to bring up the rear was with Experience and Qualification.

NYRA finished last because they simply didn't try.

Anonymous said...

"NYRA finished last because they simply didn't try" wrote a poster, because NYRA simply had nothing of value to add, says this poster.