The casino referendum will have the odds skewed in its favor due to the wording of the measure that voters will see when they
enter the voting booths slip their ballot into the scanner on November 5. It reads like a New York Gaming Association press release.
"The proposed amendment to section 9 of article 1 of the Constitution would allow the Legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved?"Now, I don't know what the percentage of voters will be learning of the referendum for the first time at the polling place. But, in a vote that is expected to be close, those voters could conceivably make the difference. And what self-respecting voter would vote against job growth, aid to schools, and lower property taxes? Just never you mind about problem gambling!
It's not clear at exactly what point the ballot question was turned into a campaign commercial; but according to Michael Gormley of the Associated Press, there's no doubt that Governor Cuomo's office had a heavy hand in it (as well as ensuring that it's the first question on the referendum portion of the ballot).
Before it was recast by Cuomo and the Legislature, the referendum stated simply: "The purpose of the proposed amendment to section 9 of article 1 of the constitution is to allow the Legislature to authorize and regulate up to seven casinos. If approved, the amendment would permit commercial casino gambling in New York state."Indeed, according to the NY Times, a spokeswoman for the governor confirmed that her office had consulted with the Board of Elections on all six of the ballot proposals as a part of “longstanding practice,” but that the language was ultimately up to that Board. However, not only are the other five worded in a neutral manner, they're virtually unreadable as opposed to the short and sweet language of the casino proposal, which obviously stands out and points the voter in the direction desired by the governor. It's outrageous. But apparently not illegal.
Referenda are supposed summarize a law passed by the Legislature to change the constitution. The added benefits of tax breaks and school aid, however, aren't listed in the law.
"This one seems particularly heavily spun," said Gerald Benjamin, a political science professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz. "I don't think there's anything illegal about it ... it's OK, but I don't think it's good."
Benjamin said a group could sue over the casino referendum language, but neither law nor the constitution requires an objective presentation of an issue to voters. [AP]
- At Belmont on Thursday, another winner for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who had two on Wednesday. Divided Attention ($12.20) was making her second career start while stretching out to the one-turn mile; and - a hat tip here for Doug Salvatore on the TimeformUS blog - she's a half-sister to Folklore, who adored that route as a two-year old, winning the Matron by 14 lengths, as well as the BC Juvenile Fillies, also over this track.
Gary Contessa took the 6th with Carolinian ($5.60), a two-year old trying grass for the first time. I made some good money on this barn during the last week at Saratoga with young horses on grass - including Duff One, who completed the exacta in the PG Johnson for two-year old colts. Not a category one would generally associate with this barn, but worth keeping an eye on as we move through the Belmont meet. Carolinian is by Yes It's True out of an Always A Classic mare who's a half to a couple of grass stakes winner.
Two winners on the day for Rudy Rodriguez; three winners in the last five starters for this barn.
And quite an interesting day close to the day for trainer Chris Englehart, who took the 8th with Mewannarose ($56), and then just missed a boxcar late double when Greatest Dream missed the 9th by a neck at 31-1! This barn has two winners and three seconds at this meet, and has been in the money with its last eight starters here and at Saratoga. So beware; he has one starter on Thursday, Navajo Ca Lo (10-1) in the 5th, first time off the claim with a couple of altogether decent efforts over the track in the spring.