“We have five months to collect that $200 million,” says Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in the NY Times article which appears in the print edition today (and which was leaked online yesterday). Not the first time I've heard Silver make the point that the decision as to who exactly the money comes from (and some bidders are offering more up front) is not his top priority at a time when legislative leaders and governor Paterson are locked in a battle over a Deficit Reduction Plan. And that matter is not going very well at all.
The hangup over how to close the budget gap is apparently midyear cuts in education that Senators of both parties oppose....but let me ask you this: If these guys can't agree on what is reported to be no more than around a half billion dollars of the $3.2 billion gap that Paterson is trying to close, how are they possibly going to deal with a budget gap of $10 billion or more in the next fiscal year which begins in April? That debate will start soon after this one, and I'd guess that the odds are pretty good that we'll hear the first serious discussion in the legislature of expanded gambling in the form of table games at racinos....and, eventually, a full-blown casino at Belmont.
Meanwhile, the Big A fiasco goes on; and while the Times calls it a "long-running drama," it long ago turned to farce. This article is one of those which mostly summarizes what we already know - the Senate favors Aqueduct Entertainment Group, while the Governor fancies SL Green, "or maybe Delaware North." But we're also told that Paterson's chief counsel Peter Kiernan is taking heat for the chaotic and chameleon-like nature of the process, in which bidders have not only been permitted, but encouraged, if not required, to make changes to its offers.
“There are no parameters,” said Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow, a Westchester Democrat who is chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Racing and Wagering. “The problem is that the process was flawed from its inception. Everyone should have been operating with common guidelines.”Also interesting in this article is the implication that Malcolm Smith is indeed the driving force behind the Senate's preference for AEG; that despite his obvious connections to the group which were highlighted in the press from the very first day it stepped forward to express interest. And while Smith categorically denied any favoritism or personal interest in a racino job (at least in the online article yesterday....his quote to that effect is now curiously deleted in both the online and print versions), it just certainly seems quite the coincidence, and a brazen disregard for appearance, that he would just happen to land on the group as his top choice.
Senator Eric Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat who chairs the Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, said on Monday that Senator John L. Sampson, the Democrats’ leader, “is comfortable with A.E.G.,” but could “live with any of the others.”A slight softening in the Senate's position perhaps; still, a decision before New Year's is starting to seem unlikely.
“We don’t want to go in there and say, ‘Listen. This is the only person we’re going with and that’s it.’ We want to get this resolved, and we need the money in the budget.”
- Deliberations in the Bruno trial begin today, and there's speculation that it may not take long. The summations took place yesterday; the prosecution couldn't do any better than comparing Joe to Tiny, the schoolyard bully. Seems a bit lame. Defense attorney Abbe Lowell turned that around by telling the jury: "..Tiny wasn’t alone. The principal was there. The teacher was there. The school superintendent was there…” This is a good summary of the key points that the jury will consider, and the arguments presented in court for and against them.