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.