- New Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, the first Democrat to hold the position in 43 years, choked up a bit during his acceptance speech on Wednesday. Maybe it was because his party will now have to take sole ownership of the drastic spending cuts necessary to close the estimated $15 billion budget deficit. The noisy protests by union members opposed to the cuts were only the start of the flak the party will receive.
Nothing substantive really happened in the capital on Wednesday in Albany, for a change. Senator Smith's toned down deal with the three dissident senators which was completed the evening before merely and finally affirmed the majority that the Democrats won electorally in November. And Governor Paterson had little new to say in his memorized State of the State, having presented his budget last month.
No mention of Belmont slots nor, of course, the theoretical racino at the Big A. Here's an anonymous commenter who claims that sources tell him or her that Delaware North is holding out for either an agreement regarding Belmont which would raise their percentage split at the Big A, or for separate relief from the terms which they already agreed to. I wouldn't normally mention hearsay such as that from an Anonymous, but I think that's something that we all already suspect.
Elizabeth Benjamin reported in her Daily Politics blog that the Senate's Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee is one of two panels still without an announced chairperson; and that Senator Smith is perhaps reserving it for a Republican as a show of bipartisanship. I'm not sure what that means with respect to how high a priority the matter is to him. But, as a reader pointed out the other day, he seems to be on board with slots at Belmont in any event.
- Matt Hegarty had the story in the Form the other day about NYC OTB's cries of poverty with respect to the court ruling requiring them to pay disputed monies, determined to be in the amount of $15 million, to two harness tracks. OTB says they would have to go to the legislature to seek relief.
"We will be unable to operate effectively unless and until the legislature makes an adjustment to the statute, until we are not required to pay out more than is available from our operating funds," [General Counsel Ira] Block said.As usual, Joe Faraldo, the hard-driving president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, refused to back down one bit.
"They have an obligation under the law to make those payments," Faraldo said. "Nothing can remove those obligations. Frankly, it's quite sad to me to see a state agency say, 'We're not going to pay you.' What, exactly, do we have statutes for?"- And finally, a lot of buzz this week about the chances of Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to be appointed by Governor Paterson to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate. She was my pick early on, so I just thought I'd point that out. Ms. Gillibrand is amongst six people known to have completed a detailed questionnaire for the governor (not known if Andrew Cuomo has done so.....I still think he's not interested, despite his dancing around the question).
If the board does not issue an enforcement order, Faraldo said the horsemen are prepared to go to court to seek a declaratory judgment that would force New York City OTB into bankruptcy if it continues to contend that it cannot make the payments. [DRF]
The form, which was due Thursday, also went to [you know who] Kennedy, [Rep. Steve] Israel and [Rep. Carolyn] Maloney, as well as U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi. [Times Union]There was a story earlier in the week that Ms. Gillibrand doesn't get along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; I don't really see what that has to do with the matter at hand. With Ms. Clinton scheduled to begin her confirmation hearings next week, it won't be long before we find out who the governor picks. More exciting than the winter stakes at the Big A these days to be sure!