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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

No Silver Rush

“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.”

“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.”
A slight softening in the Senate's position perhaps; still, a decision before New Year's is starting to seem unlikely.

- 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.


Anonymous said...


Good summation of the NY Times article. However cannot help but think that the SL Green PR machine was at work here as the article seems very favorable to them by not mentioning any of their negatives which we know to be numerous.

Anonymous said...

I hope it is posturing by the leaders in Albany and not that the Aqueduct decision will take several more months.

We need that money in NY or we will continue to see our racing drift into oblivion.

NY Horseman

Anonymous said...

So what are the odds on a quick turn around by the Jury and an acquittal?

I think (and hope) the odds are good.

Good luck Joe.

SaratogaSpa said...

Perhaps most jurors in the Bruno case will think what I was thinking upon reading about the case: What did Joe do differently from the rest of the NY State Legislature? What makes him so much worse than the rest of them? They all have fingers in most pots to some degree, dems and Repubs alike. Seems like a quick decision of not guilty.

alan said...

>>So what are the odds on a quick turn around by the Jury and an acquittal?

I wouldn't bet against that.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Alan and Saratoga Spa.

Joe should be acquitted.

alan said...

>>I agree with Alan and Saratoga Spa.

Hold on there. I didn't say that I think he should be acquitted, just that, if I had to guess I'd guess that he will be. I'm not saying that I think he should be convicted either....but certainly the ways and means of Albany should be, and hopefully that message will be received no matter what the verdict. Tend to doubt that though.

SaratogaSpa said...

Just to clarify- I am with Alan on the "should" vs. "will be". I make no comment on whether what Bruno did is criminal or not or if he "should" be convicted, only that I got a feeling the Jury will say not guilty- I think our NYS Representatives are mostly all dirty and the Jury knows that and in an odd way will have a hard time singling out Joe Bruno, even if in fact they see it as criminal.

Anonymous said...

IF he is guily of violating the public trust he should do serious jail time in general population.

The only way to stop this crap is to increase the penalties to provide real deterrent, as they did with drunk driving in the 90's.

If these slimy arrogant punks actually thought they might spend a few years sharing showers with some real criminals they might think twice about blatantly ripping off the taxpayers.

Right now they believe that they are entitled and beyond the reach of the law, as long as it stays that way nothing will change.

Heppy Thanksgiving, I would like to give thanks to all the honest politicians, if anyone can find one send them to my house for some turkey.

Anonymous said...

Any update on Aqueduct?

Anonymous said...

Joe Bruno's accomplishments for the good of Saratoga County, NY racing, and NY State far overshadow whatever dubious mis-deeds he is alleged but not proved to have committed. This is a Spitzer-inspired political vendetta and most citizens have not been fooled by the "show trial" just concluded. /S/greenmtnpunter

El Angelo said...

Whole-heartedly disagree. Having crooks like Bruno around racing give the sport a bad name. He should be in jail.

Anonymous said...

Since it is only fair to apply El Angelo's Joe Bruno standard to all NY pols, it should open up a lot of boxes in the Spa clubhouse. Joe was playing all sides in the franchise and VLT awards, just like all the other "public servants" in Albany. Bottom line, though, over the years, Joe Bruno has been a net plus for NY racing. Has another NY pol done more? /S/greenmtnpunter

Anonymous said...


To name one, Senator Nolan. Blue Sky Farm.

Remember what stripper clubs Bruno visited while in Florida...remember short lived office (made that NYC OTB bathroom expenses look puny) that he had the State fund for his brother in Saratoga Springs.

The National Grid equipment that Bruno 'demanded' to be left on his farm--where else did he learn to drive the big toys...

So, move to NY and help pay our taxes...

Anonymous said...

They are all crooks that need to be tossed out of office. Its easy to support some of these guys when you are not paying taxes in this state.