- NY Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R-Schenectady) told The Saratogian that he’s unaware of any progress in racing negotiations.
“There’re no talks that I know of,” Tedisco said. “The real holdup here is Sheldon Silver. He just said publicly it’s not a priority. It’s not rent control in New York City. We’re trying to convince him that you have Democratic colleagues here.Senator Bruno said that the ball is in Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s court, which means, of course, in Brunospeak that it's up to Spitzer to accede to Bruno's demands on the NYRA board and the length of the franchise. The two agree, however, on Belmont slots, and it's Silver who is holding up an agreement on that. Regarding OTB, Bruno said:
“I don’t know if the speaker’s trying to play a card to get some more funding or assistance for the downstate area in delaying this process, but I know the longer we go the worse impact it has on the economy of Saratoga.”
“We should be rolling all of that in while we’re addressing racing and wagering here in the state....We can’t get the support for that from the others that we need, the Assembly and the governor. We have to have one racing and wagering venue and this was an opportunity for us to do it. So we’re still going to keep working toward getting that done.”Bruno has been talking about the OTB issue, but only since the time that the Senate put forward their response to the MOU; and it has only gained prominence since Bloomberg's threat to close the City OTB. So it would be false for him to imply that he's been out front on the matter all along while the others have waffled. In fact, enhancing his political influence in the new franchise has seemed to be his top priority.
Bruno also told a luncheon audience: “I’m not the greatest fan of this governor and he is not my greatest fan." We knew that.
The Democrats will have another opportunity to gain control of the Senate and nudge Bruno towards irrelevancy. Already, a special election will be held on February 26 to replace retiring Republican Senator James Wright. Now, a second upstate Republican lawmaker, Senator Mary Lou Rath, has announced her intention to retire. The GOP currently holds a two-seat Senate majority, but a tie would effectively result in Democratic control with the party in control of the governor's mansion. Senator Rath will remain in office until her term expires at teh end of this year, thus no shift in power could occur before the March 31 budget deadline, at which time we'd expect the franchise issue to be resolved once and for all, for better or for worse. But her retirement does put another seat into play come November.
“I am sorry to see Senator Rath leave. She is one of the best senators in the state,” said...Bruno. “That’s a Republican seat; we’ll be O.K. We have a depth of people behind her.”- Slots opponents in Miami-Dade were working with far less money than supporters, and turned to some desperate measures. One group ran an ad that asserted that former NFL star Michael Vick, who sponsored dog fighting, would vote for the slots if he could.
Doug Forand, a political strategist for the Senate Democrats, said of Ms. Rath’s district: “The numbers are Republican, though the margin has been narrowing in recent years. This would be a tough race, but probably not unwinnable.” [NY Times]
"Financially, we were outnumbered 10 to 1. We had to resort to using methods that would get our message across to the voters." [Miami Herald]It didn't work; the winning margin was almost 2 to 1. The Flagler Dog Track is expected to spend $80 to $100 million on renovations. Miami Jai-Alai has a contract giving Isle Of Wight first dibs to buy it; the company owns and operates Pompano Park, the most successful of the Broward County racinos thus far.
In New Jersey, Freehold has agreed to delay its draconian purse cuts for a week in the hope that Governor Corzine, the state legislature, and Atlantic City casinos can agree on a new purse subsidy package. The horsemen there have threatened a work stoppage should the cuts occur.