- No developments on the franchise on Tuesday, but a couple of things to mention.
Good job by Matt Hegarty in the Form, pointing out how the Oversight Board's extension offer appeared to provide some political cover for [Republican] opponents of a legislative agreement, which is supported by Spitzer and Sheldon Silver...both of whom are Democrats.
The oversight board was created in 2005 by former Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, who selected three of its five members. A fourth member, Joseph Torani, was selected by the Senate majority leader, Joseph Bruno, the powerful Republican who has led the opposition to a long-term extension of NYRA's franchise. The fifth oversight board member, Madelyn Wils, was selected by Silver. [DRF]And the NY Daily News included an opinion column by one Bill Hammond, whose name I've only fleetingly encountered during my travels around the web in search of news relevant to our purposes. Entitled Hold your horses, governor, it's the latest anti-NYRA editorial by a clueless writer who simply rehashes those familiar themes - scandal, bankruptcy, decreasing attendance, etc., - in simplistic fashion, without any acknowledgment of NYRA's reform efforts and clean bill of ethical health, nor making the slightest attempt to explore the complex reasons behind NYRA's financial situation and its declining live crowds.
As is often the case in these editorials, the writer quickly flaunts his ignorance of the subject.
[NYRA] would also receive a generous slice of the revenues from video lottery machines to be installed at Aqueduct - money that would otherwise be earmarked for schools.That money is of course earmarked for whoever is operating the tracks, NYRA or not, and it's laughable if the writer really believes that either of the for-profits he fancies, Capital Play or Empire, wouldn't receive at least the same share.
The bit about money "earmarked for schools" makes one think that Hammond was reading from a Capital Play bullet points memo. That consortium's relentless attacks, which started up as if on cue as Empire faded away, is clearly having an effect. The audience that their negative TV ad is targeted to - which includes columnists like Bill Hammond - knows little about the subject, and as they read and hear the same points hammered away, with little to no rebuttal from the other side, they accept it as the whole truth. It's no different from what political campaigns are these day, and that's why candidates with the most money with which to run negative ads usually win.
And that's also why Capital Play hired the experienced Sheinkopf Communications as their political consultant/communications strategist; the firm has worked for Bill Clinton, and for Eliot Spitzer himself. They were hired to help form public opinion, and I'd venture a guess that NYRA's poll numbers could be worse than even the president's right now. You certainly have to give Sheinkopf credit, and to Capital Play for selecting them. But I don't expect to read a columnist in one of the top circulated papers in the country merely echo their PR without making any effort whatsoever to explore the details - and questions - behind them.