- Senate Republicans have capitulated on the Delaware North racino at the Big A. In the big picture, the additional week and a half of delay since Governor Paterson's selection of the company is not a big deal. What's another $10-11 million when the state is facing a deficit that Paterson has of late been variously tagging as anywhere from $2 - $2.5 billion for this year? However, it's certainly fair to ask what exactly did the Republican conference achieve here?
Well, we've read some vague statements by Delaware North that, yeah, we really did intend all along to (maybe) build a hotel and make Ozone Park an entertainment destination, and the community got some face time with the company that had ignored it before. If they extracted anything specific from Delaware North, it's as secret as the rest of this process has been. But it seems to me at this point that what the Republicans really wanted was this: a chance for embattled 28-year incumbent State Senator Serphin Maltese to announce his party's acceptance of the deal during a televised debate with Democrat Joseph Addabbo Jr on Wednesday night. "We were trying to protect the community," he told the Daily News.
"Delaware North responded to the concerns [voiced] by Queens community residents and has provided more detailed information and a commitment to develop the area surrounding the track to ensure that Aqueduct becomes a destination venue with quality retail, business, hotel, conference and entertainment facilities," Maltese said in a statement. "With this commitment in hand, the Senate will agree to the selection of Delaware North so this important project can go forward." [Bloodhorse]And that's about it. Of course, Maltese's posturing could earn him a few hundred more votes on Election Day, which could be enough to turn the tight race in his favor, which, in turn, could in theory be enough for the Republicans to maintain control of the Senate. So it could be a very big deal for the party, and the state, in that respect.
But silly me for actually thinking that the GOP was going to righteously go to the mat over a proposal by a company represented by lobbyists tied to the governor and Speaker which, by all accounts anyway (since we've never seen the details of the bids), lacked the long term vision and potential of the others. And over a process conducted completely behind closed doors, the rules of which seemed to change as we went along, giving Delaware North a chance to amend their proposal - "in writing," according to Maltese. Perhaps Delaware North really has made a firm commitment to expand beyond the "slots in a box" concept that they've been accused of proposing, and maybe the Republicans' effort will turn out to be worthwhile in the long run. But for now, I can't help but suspect that it was all nothing more than trying to win an election, pure and simple.