- With the news that the Shinnecock tribe has taken a huge step towards federal recognition, a reader emailed: "Who fronts $200 million for Aqueduct knowing that the tribe could put up a full casino in NYC area tomorrow?"
Good question, though it won't quite be tomorrow. While recognition is virtually assured, a public-comment period of up to six months must be held before the final order is issued. [NYT]
In addition, while federal recognition by itself entitles the tribe a build a Class II (slots only) casino on their reservation on eastern Long Island - a concept which
has generated fierce opposition from the local communitythe tribe has now ruled out, additional negotiations with the feds and the state will be required for a full-blown casino located outside of the reservation; that due to a a Bush administration decision that Indian casinos must be within commuting distance of reservations - or 75 miles - so that Indians would be able to work there. [Newsday]
Nonetheless, one state senator already wants to start the process towards the inevitable casino at Belmont.
State Senator Craig Johnson, a Long Island Democrat whose district encompasses Belmont, said the state should immediately begin serious talks about the issue.Newsday reported that Johnson wrote to Governor Paterson asking that discussions begin on the feasibility of adding a casino at Belmont Park.
“The first topic I want to discuss is how Belmont fits into this,” he said. [NYT]
A little Googling led me to The Verifiable Truth, the long-running blog which has followed, in quite fastidious and critical fashion, the exploits of the Detroit casino magnates Marian Ilitch and Michael Malik for some time. Their Gateway Casino Resorts is the financial backer of the tribe; and that's a whole other subject which I'm sure we'll be hearing, reading, and writing about should a project at Belmont move towards fruition. In a post dated Oct 12, verifiable links to a campaign filing [pdf] which shows that Malik contributed $2500 to the Friends of Craig Johnson last February. Pretty funny the way the Michigan address stands out like a sore thumb amongst the almost exclusively local contributors. Just thought I'd point that out.
Of course, the Shinnecock decision has been expected since the Obama Administration took over, and should come as no shock to the Aqueduct bidders. Still, it may very well change their perception and send the accounting staff back to their spreadsheets. Maybe they'll be the ones to request a change in the rules this time?
- A couple of polls released on Tuesday contained some mixed news for Governor Paterson. He showed improvement in his approval ratings - to varying degrees between the polls conducted by Siena and Quinnipiac University . Remarkably, according to the latter, his job approval rating is up to within nine points at 40-49 approve/disapprove; with his favorability rating up to 38-46 from 28-52. The governor continues to be highly visible; and in an appearance on CNBC on Monday, I found him to be assertive and in confident command of his facts. He has obviously worked hard along with his political team to rehabilitate his image, and, with help from the Senate, has made big strides in my view.
However, he remains well behind Andrew Cuomo (60-23) in a possible primary matchup.
“It’s strange,” said Bill Montfort, chairman of the Warren County Democratic Party. “It’s strange that he keeps pressing on. But hey, you know, Spitzer thinks that he can make a comeback, too. I don’t know. I have no idea. Nobody’s committing to anything, even Andrew isn’t saying anything. Nobody’s committing to anything because they’re waiting to see what this guy does, and he keeps going forward.”Paterson's best and only hope is Cuomo not running altogether. The Qunnipiac poll also showed that the governor now has a 41-40 lead over Cuomo amongst African-American Democrats. That compares [to] Cuomo’s 51-24 margin over Paterson in October’s Quinnipiac poll. And though a spokesperson from the school qualified those results as being based on a small sample, if the governor can establish a clear advantage in that category, and pick up some enthusiastic endorsement from black leaders (other than John Sampson), perhaps the AG, recalling the hard feelings generated by his primary run against Carl McCall in 2002, would have second thoughts.
“He thinks he can turn this around,” said Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf. “But look at Andrew Cuomo’s numbers. How does he even get close?” [New York Observer, interesting piece]