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Monday, December 10, 2007


- Cookie Jill passed along a link to an article from the Times-Picayune of New Orleans website about Magnaville, a community developed for Katrina evacuees by Frank Stronach and his Magna International (that's his company that actually makes money). You might recall that Stronach airlifted 260 displaced residents to the Palm Meadows Training Center; that was over two years ago now, and Frank had bigger plans - a "uniquely Canadian solution" he said at the time.

This is the magnanimous side of Frank, and what he came up with is Magnaville, and yes, that's really the name. At least it's not Frankville or Frank's Planned Community. As I've said, Frank Stronach, whatever one thinks of his aptitude for running racetrack companies, is quite a fascinating guy; so it comes as no surprise that the community is just a tad on the eclectic side.

Canadaville [as it has become to be known by the locals], the brainchild of Magna founder Frank Stronach, goes well beyond corporate largesse and into the realm of social engineering. Stronach envisioned an experiment arguably more Canadian than American that would transform low-income city dwellers into enterprising organic farmers. Along the way, he aimed to raise them out of poverty, offering five years of free rent and other services, such as transportation to work, as an economic springboard.
The village's rules, laid out in a contract residents sign, require all adults to work or attend school, as well as perform eight hours of community service a week. Though rent is free, residents pay utilities. Magna also performs background checks to weed out people with violent histories and requires residents to submit to drug tests, on demand, if village authorities suspect drug use. A handful of families have been asked to leave, mostly because they either couldn't or wouldn't kick a drug habit.. [Times Picayune]
The farming idea apparently was slow to catch on with too many residents. But recent efforts have succeeded in involving more people.
Magna now aims to take things to the next level, with company officials discussing how to start a commercial farm, Carmichael said. They plan to encourage residents to become microfarmers, essentially part-time farmers who take on several acres of land as a side job to make extra money.

Ideally, people who work relatively low-wage jobs could farm on the site, making extra money that would allow them to build savings and assets....The company also will develop the "Freshstart" brand that would be used to market the organic produce or other products.
I'm getting this picture of Gulfstream Park as a giant cooperative farm, with goats and chickens occupying the stalls currently housing equines. Throw in a few slot machines, and it could be a money maker.

- And thanks to reader JPJ who sent along an account by the NY Daily News' Jerry Bossert of his getting reamed by a steward for having the nerve to question a non-DQ at the Big A on Sunday. "We don't have to justify our decisions every time to you," he was told. It was the third race, in which Serious Vow, with Alan Garcia, checked sharply around the sixteenth pole. They were pinned down on the rail after turning for home; Garcia at first tried to get up the rail, but was blocked by La Porta. When he then tried to split La Porta and Rough Water, he was denied when La Porta drifted out under left handed whipping by John Velazquez. The objection was lodged by trainer Carlos Martin. It's tough to say that Garcia was entitled to the narrow opening between the two. But it was certainly worth asking for an explanation. And as Bossert wrote, the public needs to know the stewards' reasoning.
Once again, as we have stated numerous times, the stewards should be on the record with written explanations about why they chose to disqualify a horse or not. Treating someone with no respect and yelling at them is not the way to be a steward. It is called being a bully. [NY Daily News]


Anonymous said...

Trainer Carlos Martin claimed foul against La Porta and runner-up Rough Water, but the stewards denied the claims. When questioned, one steward got very defensive and yelled at me, "We don't have to justify our decisions every time to you."


30 more years of this crap.

Anonymous said...

No. No. No.

There are three stewards at NYRA. One appointed by NYRA, one appointed by The Jockey Club and one appointed by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

No report has yet indicated which steward acted in the unprofessional manner. To assume it was the NYRA steward is a leap.

Anonymous said...

NBC Nightly News also featured "Canadaville" on Sunday night ...

Anonymous said...

Good for Jerry for continuing to shine a light on the arrogant stewards. Agree NYRA is not the issue here.

And very good for Frank.

One of Magna's many ex-CEOS once stated upon his departure, the problem with Frank is he wakes up every day with 10 new ideas. One of them is usually great, the other 9 not so much. Problem is he refuses to back down from any of them.

Another good Frank story is the Adena Springs program of rehabilitating his ex-racehorses bred by him.

Whethar owned by him or not during their racing career, Adena takes them in, rehabs them when possible, retrains for another use, and places them for adoption.

Essentially a rescue organization, they actually have a waiting list for their horses because they are so well trained and ready for their next career.

Frank sounds like a good man at heart and is undoubtadly brilliant, just stubborn to a detriment.

Have liked many of his ideas, but unfortunately many are financially unsound.

But at least he has a vision, a quality sorely lacking in this industry.

Anonymous said...

Stronach really loves horses and racing. This is indeed a trait sorely lacking in an industry where many just use the horses and horsemen to their advantage. To many industry venue operators, merely just a vehicle on which a bet is taken. I wish Frank would have had more realistic objectives when he swooped in to try and save racing.

Anonymous said...

The best and most encouraging part was the last sentence: "We filed a complaint to both the NYRA and the New York State Racing and Wagering Board."

While I wish them the best of luck considering the Board has other fish to fry and isn't capable of cooking any of them anyway, at least someone stood up to a bully, from which behavior towards any member of the betting public must be beyond reproach.

Anonymous said...

Bossert's a bit of a bully and blowhard himself. There's always two sides to every story too.

Maybe someone here can tell us what other racing jurisdictions do with regard to reporting fouls (I don't mean Hong Kong, I mean other states like NJ, FL, CA, etc.?