The New York Times has obtained, via a FOIL request, a copy of the Lottery's confidential assessment of the Aqueduct bidders which was prepared in August. The Senate Democrats who held out stubbornly for Aqueduct Entertainment Group, which ranked only 4th amongst the six candidates, have a lot of 'splaining to do. And as much as Senators Sampson, Smith, and Espada would like to resist the subpoenas of the Inspector General looking into the matter - and quite brazenly and outrageously I'd say - the IG filed a strongly-worded response to their objections insisting that they do.
In papers filed last night in state Supreme Court in New York County, Inspector General Joseph Fisch's office argued that Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson, Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. and President Malcolm Smith are under the "misapprehension" that their status as state lawmakers means they don't have to hand over the information he's seeking.These three clowns should be ashamed and embarrassed, but I don't think those words are in the Albany vocabulary. I imagine that in the end, it will be clear that the conflicts of interest which led to AEG's selection was theirs and theirs alone, and that the governor was merely worn down to the point where he went along. If Paterson wasn't stupid enough to meet with Floyd Flake the next business morning after the selection, the heat on this matter would be firmly where it belongs.
The IG's memorandum makes for interesting reading.
At once point, he notes the "disjointed, fractured state of the Senate leadership," which caused him to subpoena all three Democrats with leadership titles, even though Smith is the only person who, under the Tax Law, is authorized to enter into an MOU.
The IG has also found evidence of "extensive contact" with Senate and Assembly staffers by racino bidders.
"The Senate and individual senators have woefully failed to meet their burden of demonstrating that the Inspector General's subpoenas seek information that is 'utterly irrelevant' to this investigation and that inquiry would be 'futile'" the IG wrote.
"...In fact, such a claim would strain credulity as the Senate and its staff were undeniably involved in the process, actually interacted with executive officials, lobbyists and bidders, and obviously could shed light upon the actions that preceded the contingent selection of AEG." [Daily Politics]
Meanwhile, with no resolution to the budget talks in sight, the State Senate passed budget extender bills which will keep the government functioning....or should I say, "functioning," past the April 1 deadline during which the legislators will be out of town for the holidays. And, as was reported late last week, a temporary lifeline of $1.4 million to keep NYCOTB functioning at least through Derby Day was scuttled.
And that's where the drama lies now; forget about the racino, that ain't happening anytime in the near future with the governor determined to start the bidding anew rather than simply pick from one of the four passed over for AEG. You'll recall Charlie Hayward's assertion that "all bets are off" should OTB cease operations and the payments it makes to the association. (Though they owe NYRA back payments, they've kept current since filing for bankruptcy.) Albany Law School's Bennett Liebman told Paul Post last week: “If they stop paying NYRA, that’s it....Really, that’s more important than VLTs at the current time.” [Thoroughbred Times]`
- Monmouth Park has released its first condition book for its condensed racing season, and you can view it here. Charlie Hayward and PJ Campo don't want to look.
Included in the condition book are maiden special weight purses set at $75,000 and entry level allowance events for $80,000. By comparison, those races were run for $38,000 and $41,000, respectively, in 2009. In addition, all runners in all races are guaranteed $1,500 to start. [Monmouth Park Press Release]