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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Getnick and Getnick Again and Again

Before we were interrupted by the holiday weekend, there was the latest news item regarding NYRA, this one involving a dispute with their former integrity counsel Getnick and Getnick.  Longtime LATG readers and followers of the NY political scene are surely familiar with these guys; if you enter 'Getnick' in the search box in the upper left hand corner of this blog, you'll get a long list of posts, quite well-written if I do say so myself, going back as far as 2005.  I'd forgotten, until this reader mentioned it, about Neil Getnick's peripheral involvement in the Friends of New York/Empire Racing affair - he/she probably saw the same post that I did that came up on top of the search.  (Getnick had asserted that Tim Smith basically told him what Friends was up to back in 2004. Ah, those were the days, eh?)

Just about everyone was excoriated over Getnick's $125,000 per month contract as NYRA's integrity counsel.  NYRA was criticized for agreeing to pay anyone that much given their financial condition.  G&G was criticized for conflict of interest - it was after all their glowing report that allowed NYRA to emerge from a federal prosecution and go on to win the franchise....thus allowing Getnick to get the lucrative gig.  And, if you Google 'NYRA Getnick,' it returns, right on top (at least for me, could be different for you depending on what highly personal information of yours Google has), is a post of mine linking to a NY Post column in which Frederik U. Dicker breathlessly tells us how Joe Bruno was investigating Governor Spitzer's ties to the firm.  And haven't the lives of those two arch-enemies changed since then!  I would think that they could now perhaps find some common ground and share a laugh over a beer reminiscing over old times.  (Or....maybe not.)

Also, if we go way back to that abovementioned post from 2005, we see that Neil Getnick said that he was charging NYRA a mere $5 million for its work as the federal monitor during the prosecution. 

So, NYRA has been quite the cash cow for Getnick.  But now, the two sides are embroiled in a legal fight over NYRA's firing of G&G in March of 2011.  The two were squabbling over that $125,000 a month fee that NYRA had stopped paying in full after the arrangement was criticized by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.   Matt Hegarty reports in the Form: 

  In court filings on Thursday, Getnick and Getnick’s legal counsel argued that the requirements of the franchise agreement NYRA had reached with the state prohibited NYRA from making a unilateral decision to fire the company. The company asked the court to reject NYRA’s argument and reiterated that Getnick and Getnick is still owed the money under the five-year agreement. [DRF]
The kicker here is a heretofore unreleased Getnick report purporting to contain details of two integrity investigations that were underway when the firm was fired.  Now, there is a dispute between the companies - and in newspaper reports I've read - as to when that report was delivered; whether it precipitated the firing or came afterwards.  However, Hegarty reports that Getnick's court filings themselves state that it was "delivered to NYRA’s board on June 13, 2011, three months after the firm had been fired."

If that is indeed the case, you have to take the report and whatever it says for what it's worth.  I mean, since "corporations are people," in the view of the now official GOP presidential candidate, as well as the conservative majority in the Supreme Court (one of the keys in the Citizens United ruling that rules and roils today's elections....and you really might want to read Jeffrey Toobin's controversial New Yorker article on the subject), then think about how you would react if you were involved in a long, complicated relationship that ended in bitter acrimony with you as the jilted lover.  You'd be pretty pissed I imagine, even besides the $5million and $125k per month.   Who knows what you'd say and do in reaction.  We don't know what's in the report, and may never know if NYRA prevails in its argument that it constitutes attorney-client privilege.  So I'm not saying that what's in there isn't true.  Just that, again, it has to be taken for what it's worth.

NYRA meanwhile is going on its merry way preparing for the Belmont Stakes which will draw a large crowd that will mostly go home disappointed when I'll Have Another loses.  Plenty of promotions and contests, new transportation options, and, in keeping with the theme of the day, announcing a strict security and testing protocols being implemented by the Racing and Wagering Board.  The Board can't keep track of the right takeout, but they can sure put the hammer down on all those habitual Belmont Stakes cheaters.  A buddy suggested that these measures are aimed at Doug O'Neill; but I say the Board is doing anything and everything it can to distance itself from NYRA and distract everyone from their own incompetence in the takeout snafu. 

We won't be able to tell for sure, but I do wonder if the Belmont day attendance will be at all adversely affected by all the negative publicity surrounding NYRA.  Not that it should have much to do with it at all.  But, I dunno, when an entity is the subject of such a constant barrage of negative news (all portrayed in the worst possible light), and is bashed over and over and over again, by newspapers, regulatory agencies, and politicians at all levels going up to the governor himself, it has to create some kind of a stench.  Whether it's smelly enough to keep people (other than Governor Cuomo) away, we probably won't know.  But it sure as hell can't help.


John said...

Whether I'll Have Another wins or loses, no sustainable new fans will be created.

And when those you try and leave Belmont finally arrive home at 10 PM, NYRA will once again have made itself a whole new set of enemies.

They can't help it. It's in their genes.

Anonymous said...

I see you won't be able to buy a large soda in NYC anymore. Why hasn't he banned booze and smokes? Aren't they much worse for you than a large soda? What a Nazi Bloomberg is.

wmcorrow said...

Excellent commentary.

SaratogaSpa said...

Great Post Alan

@ Anon (12:13) Actually the ban on Soda is not yet law. It first must be approved by the City Board of Health...and what you know..all members were hand picked by Nanny Bloomberg himself.

steve in nc said...

Thank you Alan. I only disagree about the race (I think he'll have another) and the crowd.

If sports fans were deterred by bad ownership, Yankee Stadium would have been half-empty during Steinbrenner's heyday and the Knicks would have played to empty seats last season.

They'll come next Saturday, and as it says in John 12:08, they'll go away hating NYRA.

Did Drape change his stance in writing that racing brings in money to the state or is it just Cuomo who's been so wrong about that. Hard to keep track.

Anonymous said...

Majority of people attending the Belmont wouldn't give a sh*t about NYRA. It will be all about being seen with your group of friends, getting drunk,partying and moving on to the next 'place to be seen." Racing ? -- so yesterday -- until the Travers.

Anonymous said...

The Belmont will draw the numbers and it will be a party atmosphere dominated with a younger picnic area and those that were too drunk to remember the 2008 bathroom fiasco.

However, the overhanging cloud won't be that of NYRA it will be that of the west coast version of Richard Dutrowl. Did anyone catch the CNN interview with O’Neal’s brother? He said they had togoogle "milk shaking" because no one in the stable knew what it was.

The negativity surrounding NYRA is the hangover affect from the 90's and the continual bashing from the politicos insure that the public perception will not change.

There was no better man for the job than Charlie Hayward and his $475K salary was a bargain. He wasn't afraid to draw the line in the sand with the know-it-all governor and unfortunately that was his undoing. Charlie was part of the solution.

I can not get over how quick Dunker and the good old boys folded.

How long before they announce Saratoga 60-day meet, PSL's for seating, charging for picnic tables and of course No Smoking on grounds?

Anonymous said...

Evidence suggests that the NYRA stopped paying Getnick well in advance of DiNapoli's criticism of the NYRA, perhaps as early as February of 2010. Why? Was Getnick only working "half-assed" during the time it was still under contract but not being paid?

The petition the NYRA filed in bankruptcy court to re-open the "Old NYRA" case relative to its contrct with Getnick was approved by the bankruptcy judge today. Does this mean that the NYRA is under bankruptcy protection and the Cuomo edict is null and void?

Anonymous said...

The evidence suggests that Getnick, Alan Hevesi, NYRA and Federal Judge Spatt were all in on the questionable closure of the 2003-04 case against the racing association.

Friend's of NY Racing's Tim Smith did indeed get caught up in this fiasco, but as he he was intending to make NY's horse industry a better place with a future. Look at where we are now and think about where we could have been.

The Getnick/NYRA relationship must be examined in the brightest of lights. Something seems strange?

El Angelo said...

How crowded Belmont will be on the 9th depends on the weather, the weather, and the weather. Bad weather, they'll get 90k, great weather, they'll top Smarty Jones' year.

Dan said...

The weather will effect how many people show up however no chance of getting $120K again. NYRA stopped Bring your own beer. This cut down on people plus 30K came from philly. I saw the max will be about 100K.

Figless said...

Long range indicates it could very well be wet, and IHA's lone bad race came in NY over a sloppy race track.

Have any of the "journalists" ever asked ONeill what went wrong that day in Saratoga?

As the date nears and if the forecast continues to trend WET this will become the big story.

Figless said...

Agree they will never approach 120k due to the beer ban, which I still maintain is a mistake.

It created security issues and instead of hiring sufficient competant security NYRA instead turns away 20k young potential long term customers.

Would not be surprised if this policy ends up spreading to the rest of the racing calendar now that the State officially owns the land and is running things, of course hiding behind liability issues like they do at music concerts in State Parks such as Jones Beach and Spac.

If the weather holds up they should draw 100k.

Anonymous said...

When they banned BYOB beer at the Stakes it was in response to Nassau County Police maintaining they could not provide backup to Belmont security with conditions in the backyard. NYRA raised the General Admission price from $2 to $10. The attendance plummeted, the gate was the same and the handle was unaffected.They also sold a lot more beer.NYRA was pinching themselves.

Dan said...

On the 10 day is for mostly cloudy & 74.

Lets hope for a fast track & sunny day but not 95 as it was with Big Brown in 2008.

Figless said...

Anon 1107, I spent that day in the backyard and simple crowd control by properly trained NYRA security could have prevented any and all issues, as it does with the first two legs of the crown. Security was all but absent, which resulted in the police needing to enter the premises late in the day.

I am sure the changes were financially motivated as well, short term financial gain at the long term cost of failing to develop new fans.

Many long term NYRA patrons, including myself and many of my friends, were introduced to racing on big race days in the backyard, 20k potential future patrons are absent in exchange for a small bump in revenue. I also know a few regulars, fairly large bettors, who are insulted by the increased prices and beer restrictions and stay away that day. I find them irrational but facts are facts, they are going to Yonkers that day.

Anonymous said...

Those 20k kids came to party and NOT gamble. It's a fact. The illusion of potential fans is nonsense. They see BSD as a party just like one at a concert