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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Deal or No Deal

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been clear that he doesn't feel that the Aqueduct selection needs to be made until after the conclusion of the budget negotiations which have consumed Albany going on four weeks now. But now that the talks appear to have concluded without a conclusion, where does that leave the epic selection process?

The deficit reduction talks between Governor Paterson and the Legislature appear to have broken down completely (despite a report of a "deal" early Monday evening). The governor said that the Legislature's "last best offer," which included some $600-700 million worth of cuts, was insufficient. And despite legislative leaders still holding out hope for an eventual deal, Paterson said that the talks have now "concluded." “I have given the Legislature more than enough time to join with me to address this crisis." [Times Union]

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said that his side has gone as far as it is willing, or able, to go, and that even the governor's scaled-back education cuts were not acceptable.

“Clearly the Senate will not entertain any education cuts, minority or majority, and therefore there aren’t 32 votes in the Senate to do a broader deficit-reduction plan. So having said that (the governor was) presented something within the political realities that exist. And it’s up to the governor to accept or reject or modify.” [Politics on the Hudson]
In response, the governor, in his latest plan to take matters entirely into his own hands, announced that he will direct the Budget Division to withhold certain payments to local governments, a move that threatened to squeeze social service providers, schools and municipal governments. [NYT]

Previously, on Sunday, Paterson announced that he was ordering $1.6 billion in emergency cuts by executive fiat. But the Village Voice noted:
Some of the package involves dicey projected revenue, as with the presumed $200 million from the Aqueduct "racino" -- now envisioned as an up-front payment from whoever winds up taking the contract -- down from the $365 million expected in palmier days, but still (forgive us) a gamble.
- No verdict in the Bruno trial, and the jury (fresh from the long weekend during which they surely did not discuss the trial one bit with any members of their extended family with whom they ate (and drank) heartily) requested a readback of testimony that the former Senate Majority Leader feels is favorable to him. The Senate's chief finance officer, Mary Louise Mallick, testifying about the grants to Evident Technologies, stated that she would make recommendations as to the merits of such monies doled out by Bruno, and that "more often than not,” he would go along. She said that she visited Evident’s headquarters and ultimately decided that the company was a worthy investment. [NY Times]

And, as Robert Gavin notes on the Times Union's site, she had also told the court that the process became more "open" under Bruno, and that the grant recipients were made public on a website. Here, Gavin once again points out that it was only after the Times Union sued the Legislature, and by the resulting court order, that the names were released.
That, however, did not come out during the testimony. Judge Gary Sharpe rejected a later bid from federal prosecutors to allow the order from the Sullivan County judge into evidence. [Times Union]
When asked how he was spending the time as he awaits the verdict, Bruno said: “I’m taking a look at what you’re doing and saying.” In that case, I imagine he's surely getting a good laugh from the obvious frustration of the reporter from his old nemesis.


Anonymous said...

10 months to go. Have you made a line on Tiger playing in the Ryder Cup?

Alan Mann said...

>>Have you made a line on Tiger playing in the Ryder Cup?

I think he faces suspension, but he can have his caddy can play in his place.

Anonymous said...

Caddy's are unable, (USGTA 1.45)
to accept odds, when his balls are in his bag !

Anonymous said...

The news this morning is that Dubai World is in negotiations to restructure $26 billion of its debt and they are expecting asset sales.


What will this mean for thoroughbred racing and breeding not only in this country but across the racing world?

What will it mean for commercial real estate in this country as reported in the Reuters article posted on your blog yesterday?

What will it mean for the Aqueduct Casino if Governor Paterson chooses MGM (directly exposed to Dubai WOrld) or SL Green, one of the largest REIT’s in the US and completely exposed to the commercial real estate market here in New York?

Surely there has to be a decision this week on Aqueduct. The State and racing needs the Aqueduct VLT decision finally put to bed. My concern is that Governor Paterson, Speaker Silver and The Senate Leadership (question: who in the Senate is making this decision because Senator Sampson seemed to be the one in the negotiations on the Budget) choose a bidder that will focus on Aqueduct and get the job done. We now need this more than ever.

Here is a link to the Reuters article again.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dubai's debt woes could further unhinge an already fragile U.S. commercial real estate, as it illustrates the importance of that tiny country to global investors in an increasingly interconnected world..............

cut and paste the link to read more.

Alan Mann said...

>>The news this morning is that Dubai World is in negotiations to restructure $26 billion of its debt and they are expecting asset sales.

Thanks for keeping us up to date on this obviously important story....wish I had some more time to post about it.

Here's a couple more articles of interest. In this Bloomberg article, an analyst says that the $26 billion is actually "positive." Another says that it“confirms that it’s a relatively minor problem.” Hmmm.....

And Paul Moran has a comprehensive look at the potential effects on the industry on

Anonymous said...

Dubai World -
understand this direction.
mentioned reuters link wasn't linked previously ?

Bottom line on this subject,
NY, Queens.

SLG, although commercial real-estate back ground, ok, if $$,
but unregulated, Florida Indians, def' not -, major troubles once teepee established, as in FL.

AEG, yes, but black Obama's & NY Unions.

Penn, monetary yes in theory, but no long term, internal Queen's grass roots commitment.

Delaware North, again retail, community monies, won't end up in Queens or NY.

Residual ; Wynn, or his wife ?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for both articles. Interesting reading.

I suspect the comment “confirms that it’s a relatively minor problem” may be wishful thinking.

However as Paul Moran points out at the end of his excellent article “If (it) may not be long before the answer becomes apparent.”

Anonymous said...

Bruno Trial:

Just in.

Jury asking about ‘reasonable doubt,’ Fassler testimony
December 1, 2009 at 12:48 pm by Robert Gavin - Times Union.

The jury deciding the fate of former Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno just asked the judge to explain the difference between “reasonable doubt” and “no shadow of a doubt” in determining the felony corruption case.

Judge Gary Sharpe explained the second term — “no shadow of a doubt” — was not part of his instructions for them to consider in deliberations.

The judge told the panel of seven women and five men they need to find Bruno, 80, of Brunswick, guilty beyond a “reasonable doubt” before convicting him on any of the eight counts he faces.

The judge noted, however, the threshold is “not beyond all possible doubt.”

Sharpe also explained “reasonable doubt” cannot be based on suspicion, speculation or sympathy.

That was the second of two notes the jury sent to the judge before noon.

The other note informed Sharpe the jury wanted to hear portions of testimony from Westchester businessman Leonard Fassler, who paid Bruno $468,000 for his services.

Specifically, the jury wanted to hear testimony about a $15,000 payment Fassler made to Bruno on May 14, 1997 from the businessman’s Sage Equities to Bruno’s Business Consultants Inc.

Fassler justified it as compensation for “consultant” work, though he said it also was so Bruno could invest $10,000 in a company called Route Master.

Anonymous said...

So is this latest news bad for Bruno?

Alan Mann said...

>>So is this latest news bad for Bruno?

Certainly seems a darker turn from yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Yes looks like a darker turn.

My bet is that they are ready to come back in with a guilty verdict, maybe even today.

Alan Mann said...

Would be ironic if they convicted him on one of the counts other than the more infamous ones involving Abbruzzese.

Anonymous said...

Joe Bruno jury reaches consensus on two counts


Last Updated: 2:36 PM, December 1, 2009

ALBANY, N.Y. — A federal jury in the Joe Bruno corruption trial told the judge that it has reached a consensus on two counts but indicated that it’s struggling on the other six.

The jury also is weighing the difference between a reasonable doubt and a shadow of a doubt.

The jury returned to the courtroom briefly on Tuesday to ask Judge Gary Sharpe to clarify the standards. Sharpe explained that the law requires someone to be found guilty beyond a "reasonable doubt." Sharpe says the law doesn't recognize the higher threshold "shadow of a doubt," which is just a common expression.

The 80-year-old former New York Senate Republican leader faces eight federal fraud counts. Prosecutors told the jury in Albany that Bruno schemed to defraud New Yorkers and concealed his sideline business dealings.

Bruno insists he did nothing wrong and never betrayed the public's trust

Anonymous said...

Looks bad for Joe. Which two counts?


Anonymous said...

Just in from the Albany Times Union:

Jury “consensus” on two Bruno counts, not on six others
December 1, 2009 at 3:08 pm by Robert Gavin

Jurors deciding the federal corruption trial of former Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno have reached “consensus” on two of the felony counts against him but remain unmoved on another six counts and are still deliberating.

The jury of seven woman and five men was sent back into deliberations about 2:45 p.m. after Judge Gary Sharpe informed the panel that “consensus” is not a word that matters in their decision-making.

They must be unanimous on a finding of either not guilty, guilty or undecided, Sharpe stressed.

He declined to read a modified “Allen charge,” a last-ditch effort employed by judges to get juries to reach a verdict. If invoked, the judge would tell the panel to keep trying.

If they failed, he could declare a mistrial.

The jury’s note stated: “After careful consideration, we have come to a consensus on two counts. We cannot come to a consensus on the other six counts.”

The jurors said they were “not ready to give up” but could use some guidance from Sharpe.

Before the jury was called back, the judge took pains to explain he did not want to engage the panel in discussion in open court.

He then gave his instructions to the jury, not engaging in any questions-nd-answers. But he did make it clear he would be prepared to receive another note and answer it, within minutes, if necessary.

Defense attorney William Dreyer told the judge he opposed the Allen charge — as well as a suggestion from Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Coombe. She asked the judge to tell the jurors – should the Allen charge be inv0ked — to realize there is no expectation a future jury would be any more qualified to decide the case then than they are.

jk said...

If Bruno is guilty, will the NY Senate have the guts to give the Big A Racino to a group with ties to Malcolm Smith. In my opinion, they will not.

Anonymous said...

To my knowledge all the bidders have connections in Albany.

Smith is quoted as not involving himself in the decision.

Recent NY Times article Smith on November 24, 2009:

Senator Eric Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat who chairs the Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, said last week, “We’re looking at both SL Green and A.E.G., and it’s a tossup between the two of them, and probably within the next day or so we’ll know 100 percent where we are.”

Mr. Smith, for his part, said in an interview that he has limited his involvement in the negotiations and had no interest in a job with Aqueduct Entertainment Group should it win the contract.

“I have no interest in working in that business,” Mr. Smith said, adding that because of his relationship with Mr. Flake, he had purposely “not gotten involved even at the recommendation level.”

I am sure Senator Smith will have dotted his 'i's' and crossed his 't's' on this one.

Anonymous said...

Joe Bruno Trial:

I suspect the Jury decision on the two counts they have reached agreement on are not-guilty, based on the Jury's actions yesterday.

So, what will happen with the other six counts?

I think the odds are for a hung jury or Joe walks.

Anonymous said...

Great speech by President Obama.

Anonymous said...

Just in - TImes Union:

No DRP or gay marriage tonight
December 1, 2009 at 8:21 pm by Irene Jay Liu

Senate spokesman Austin Shafran just announced that the Senate will not take up the DRP or any other legislation (read: gay marriage) tonight. Staff only began drafting the bill at around 7 p.m. tonight.

The Senate will reconvene at 10 a.m. tomorrow.