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Friday, February 01, 2008

Charles Can Wait For Bruno No More

- Charles Wait, a prominent Saratoga Republican, has resigned from the NYRA board in protest of Senator Bruno's continued opposition to Governor Spitzer's plan to extend NYRA's franchise. The self-described "faithful Republican and long time supporter of Senator Joe Bruno" held nothing back in his criticism of the Senate Majority Leader, warning that Bruno is jeopardizing the Saratoga meeting.

I believe that it is important for Saratogians to understand that we are facing a crisis in racing. I know that Senator Bruno is powerful and popular and I know that criticizing him in public may bring retribution. I have no desire for NYRA to become a target. I also know, that it is possible that some people might interpret my support of NYRA as somehow promoting my own self interest as a trustee. While nothing could be further from the truth, I do not wish there to be the slightest chance for the appearance of a conflict of interest. I have therefore reluctantly submitted my resignation from the New York Racing Association to protect NYRA, and avoid the perception of self dealing.

I believe that the future of the Saratoga Race meet is at stake. I believe that the choice is a clear one. Either the New York Racing Association will continue to be the steward of the finest racing in the world, or our heritage will be turned over to a casino.

Over the past eight years, the New York Racing Association has undergone significant change. All of senior management has been changed. There is a new president, all new vice presidents, a new outside auditor, a new inside auditor, a new chairman, and ten new trustees. A Saratogian, Gavin Landry, has joined the senior management team. Both the chairman and president of NYRA own homes in Saratoga. In my opinion there is no finer management team in place in racing today and none more attuned to Saratoga’s interests.

It is also my opinion that there is no plausible reason for the New York State Senate to continue to delay ratification of the memorandum of understanding first proposed by Governor Spitzer. I urge my Senator, Senator Bruno, to use his power and popularity to end the discord and uncertainty clouding the future of the Saratoga Race meet. I urge him to encourage the Senate to agree to the memorandum of understanding. I urge him to safeguard the most important engine of economic prosperity in his district.

Every days delay costs the taxpayers of this state nearly one million dollars in lost VLT revenue. Every days delay costs NYRA lost revenue from advanced ticket sales. Continued uncertainty on the availability of tickets for this summer’s racing meet will surely lead some fans to make other plans for this summer. Please, no more delays, no more finger pointing. We need leadership, statesmanship, and most of all we need an agreement.
A link to Wait's complete statement (Microsoft Word) can be found in this post on the Albany Times-Union Capitol Confidential blog. He also told the shareholders of Adirondack Trust Company, of which he is the president: "Bookings are down at local hotels and motels because patrons are hesitant to reserve rooms until the franchise is settled. This has forced some properties to borrow against their lines of credit earlier in the season than they would otherwise."

In a press release, Charles Hayward said:
The citizens of Saratoga are fortunate to have someone like Charles Wait who possesses the character and integrity to stand up for his beliefs. He has taken decisive action aimed at protecting the interests of his community.
Wait's blistering criticism of Bruno and his grim view of the consequences of a continued stalemate is certain to gain attention in his hometown and ratchet up the pressure on Bruno from his constituency.

Rudy Giuliani's historic collapse and subsequent withdrawal from the presidential race ensures that this most mean-spirited, vindictive, and shamelessly exploitive little man will not be president at a time when this country can ill-afford such pettiness in the Oval Office. But some political analysts feel that his absence on the ballot this November may also cost Bruno and his Senate Republicans the narrow two-seat majority which is their last vestige of power in the state.
"This is the worst news Joe Bruno could have gotten," said Alan Chartock, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and a retired political communications professor.

Baruch College political science Prof. Doug Muzzio agreed Republican domination of the Senate is jeopardized by the double whammy of Giuliani's quitting the race and Clinton's potential ascension as the Democratic presidential nominee.

"Joe Bruno can kiss his majority goodbye," predicted Muzzio. [NY Daily News]
But Republican Senator Dean Skelos told the paper: "If Hillary is the nominee, it will drive our Republican base out." And ain't that the truth!

- Jerry Klein, in his usual excellent weekly weekend preview at FOX Sports, points out:
In the last seven years, five Donn winners next ran in the $6 million race. Invasor won last year, Captain Steve in 2001 and Harlan's Holiday, Medaglio d'Oro and Brass Hat took home the $1.2 million runner-up prize, though the latter returned his after running afoul of medication rules.

Moreover, though victorious Saint Liam did not make the trip three years ago, second-place Roses in May did and cantered home three lengths in front. [FOX]
Daaher is listed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for Saturday's edition of the Grade 1 classic, and I'd guess that punters would line up around Hallandale Beach Blvd to get a bet down at that price. Not that McLaughlin's colt doesn't have something to prove around two turns against top company. Just that the company he'll face doesn't look tops. Usual suspects AP Arrow, Fairbanks, and Brass Hat are joined by turf specialists Einstein and Kiss the Kid, the latter of which is likely praying for rain.

If by chance Daaher should falter here, then how about Spring At Last? The five-year old son of Silver Deputy blossomed into a stakes horse after switching to Doug O'Neill from the Toddster last winter, and was right in the thick of the Malibu and Strub before taking the Godolphin Mile. He's had just one start since then, but it was a handy tune-up on the grass. O'Neill generally means business when he ships east for Grade 1's that aren't the Derby, most recently with Maryfield.

10 Comments:

Ernie said...

Wow. Good for Wait. That might make a difference.

Anonymous said...

Money talks (as in Adirondack Trust, a beautiful bank on Broadway that still looks like a bank should!)....but a flood of phone calls to Joe Bruno's Saratoga and Albany offices will be better, coordinated around a 3 day blitz and concentrated in certain time blocks. My God it must be tough being Joe Bruno these days. C'mon, Joe, show 'em you can still throw the nasty slider past these rookies. /S/Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

It’s amusing that it finally dawned upon Mr. Wait that NYRA’s utilization of his bank, Adirondack Trust, could be perceived as a conflict of interest. The bigger question is why it took 23 years for the light bulb to go off over his head (35 years if you include his father, from whom Mr. Wait 'inherited' his trustee's seat).

In an article entitled “Despite racing status, rentals on par” in the January 15, 2008 Saratogian (available online), Paul Post published anecdotal evidence contradicting Mr. Wait’s claims. Racing City Realty, which rents more than 200 local homes and apartments, alleged rentals were on par with last year’s figures. “I’ve done as many rentals now as I did at the same time last year,” Racing City Realty owner Tom Federlin said. “It’s continuous from now until July. Everybody makes a decision about Saratoga at different times. Everybody has a different timetable.”

In that same article, Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Joe Dalton is quoted as saying, “We’ve gotten some phone calls, not many, from people asking what the track dates are and if they’re going to be running. Do I think the delay is going to turn people off? I doubt it.”

Politics as usual. Even from the non-politicians.

alan said...

>>Politics as usual. Even from the non-politicians.

I recall that article, and yes, Wait's comments send conflicting signals. But I've rented from Federlin, and besides the fact that I think he's a bit of a flake (like i should talk), he also markets very aggressively throughout the year...I've been getting emails from him for a couple of months now. So I don't know that his own figures would be indicative of the market as a whole.

But, having said that, I'd personally be surprised if summer rentals have been affected to this point. It's still very early after all. After a couple of weeks of a post-Feb 13 shutdown is when I would think renters will start to think twice.

Teresa said...

Where did Wait talk about rentals? He mentioned hotel traffic being down, not rentals, as far I can tell; that would signify to me that hard-core racing folk (fans/in the business alike) haven't changed their plans, but the casual visitor might have?

Anonymous said...

Random thoughts:

Maybe Charlie is going back to his Peace Corps values.

Then again, if he was with NYRA for 23 years,I blame him for not doing anything to blow the whistle on NYRA's financials that headed south.

AT, the "Home Town Bank" still has a NYS Racing and Wagering Commissioner on its board and retains him as the banks lawyer.

Interesting that Charlie states,"I know *-that Senator Bruno is powerful and popular and I know that criticizing him in public may bring retribution. "

I think that this announcement is but a ripple in the NYRA /Bruno World.

Will the Wells Fargo trucks still be pulling up at Adirondack Truck ?
Can AT still count on the float time of NYRA account ?

Anonymous said...

Update Dire warning
Charles Wait: No deal, no racing
By PAUL POST, The Saratogian

Former NYRA board member Charles Wait gesturesduring a recent interview. (RICK GARGIULO/The Saratogian)SARATOGA SPRINGS — The state’s racetracks will shut down if a franchise agreement isn’t reached by Feb. 13, Adirondack Trust Co. Chairman Charles Wait said Friday — one day after his surprise resignation from the New York Racing Association’s board of trustees.

“There is a real possibility that NYRA will run out of cash,” he said. “If that happens there’s a real possibility that racing will stop.”

Wait devoted more than one-fourth of his bank’s annual report, released Thursday, to the racing situation, blaming Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, whose district includes Saratoga Springs, for preventing a racing settlement.

Bruno responded Friday with a statement saying that he expects “to be able to announce a final agreement within the next two weeks.”
More here:
http://www.saratogian.com/WebApp/appmanager/JRC/BigDaily;jsessionid=GhXSHjdNg3n6tLC2dNZcHRPpvhH4x7qB8STMMFndBPhHL9T7n91L!1978559121?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pg_article&r21.pgpath=%2FTST%2FHome&r21.content=%2FTST%2FHome%2FContentTab_Feature_1518810

Anonymous said...

The NYS Racing and Wagering Commissioner on Adirondack Trust's board is Harry D. Snyder.

Mr. Snyder is a member of the NYS Racing Commission, a meaningless advisory body that should not be confused with the NYS Racing and Wagering Board.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous posters that made disparaging but largely irrelevant comments about Mr. Wait, I say "don't shoot the messenger."

There is one person that continues to hold up racing in New York - Joe Bruno. Only he knows why, although (and in addition to his hatred for all things Spitzer) I suspect it has something to do with the rich "consulting" contracts given to his son and D'Amato by MEC.

If you're a true racing fan and New York resident, you should be appalled that he is singlehandedly holding up progress. Even his fellow republicans are disgusted by his behavior, and that's the real news in yesterday's statement by Mr. Wait.

Anonymous said...

Where does the last anon poster get the information that Bruno's fellow republicans are upset with his behavior? Is there a source for this claim? I read the Charles Wait piece as him "taking a shot" for the dying on the vine NYRA and perhaps one of his largest clients.