A couple of weeks ago, Charlie Hayward told Paul Post of the continuing delay over the Big A racino: "I don’t believe it’s a crisis." He was referring to the fact that NYRA is supposed to receive an upfront payment from the winning bidder to cover any gaps in its operating budget (though the exact nature of that payment is subject to negotiations).
However, the NYRA CEO's comments have been more dire (or at least have been portrayed that way by his interviewers) in subsequent articles, emphasizing the fact that the association may run out of money and have to close after the Aqueduct spring meeting. And in today's Daily News article, Hayward resorts to the most drastic threat in his arsenal.
"If we can't make payroll, we have to shut down. There is certainly a possibility that Belmont may not open and there will be no third leg of the Triple Crown."That's the kind of headline-making assertion which I've already seen picked up in articles elsewhere. Hayward is, I'd surmise, being a bit dramatic here in an attempt to move things along; assuming, that is, that NYRA really is in line to receive a life line from the winning bidder as soon as it is chosen. However, given the state of the negotiations as portrayed in the DN piece - somewhere ranging between nowhere and nonexistent, to be precise - maybe he's not.
A legislative source said the "sails went flat" on Aqueduct talks after leaders agreed on a budget plan.A source with knowledge of the deliberations (or lack thereof) informs me that Governor Paterson is "very upset" by the Daily News story; specifically, regarding the above criticism of his office's role in the stalemate. Some feel that his general counsel, Peter Kiernan, has favored SL Green all along and has "manipulated" the process. Paterson, I'm told, insists that he alone will make the decision, that he does not favor one bidder over another, and that he is merely trying to get all the parties to agree.
"The Assembly was amenable to more than one bidder, but the Senate was at loggerheads with the governor," the source said.
Spokesmen for Silver and Sampson say the ball is in Paterson's court. "It's really the governor's office that's running the whole process," Silver spokeswoman Melissa Mansfield said.
If that's the case, then the governor should consider my suggestion that he demonstrate the same kind of leadership and assertiveness that he has in his recent dealings with the legislature on the budget (not to mention in his recent and frequent appearances on local and national TV and radio in an attempt to bolster his re-election chances), and make that decision, announce it publicly, and put the pressure on the other two to agree, or to tell us all why they don't.