The first three members of the Resort Gaming Facility Location Board, the panel that will decide the sites and operators of the four upstate NY casinos, have been named by the NY Gaming Commission.
Most notable in terms of name recognition is the former NYC Comptroller, and two-time NYC mayoral race loser, William Thompson, Jr. We last saw him managing to run second in November, ahead of Christine Quinn, despite what seemed like a lackluster campaign. He barely qualified for a runoff against de Blasio, but bowed out after a couple of days of bluster after realizing that he had no chance. Thompson gets a major demerit from this corner for hiring Hank "Take the Fifth" "It’s none of his f–king business, how’s that" Sheinkopf as a senior campaign strategist for his latest bid.
Thompson has had prior dealings with the governor. Cuomo campaigned for him in 2009, when Thompson ran a surprisingly close second to Bloomberg and Cuomo was preparing to run for his first term the following year.....and Thompson subsequently served as co-chairman of that campaign. In 2011, Cuomo appointed Thompson as chairman of a task force with the goal of expanding state contract opportunities for minority and women-owned business. So, no question that these two have a relationship that goes back at least several years.
That's also the case with Paul Francis. He worked on Cuomo's 2010 gubernatorial campaign as well, as an advisor on budget and policy issues. After the election, the governor appointed him as State Director of Agency Redesign and Efficiency and named him Chairman of the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission. He served in those roles until retiring last year.
And the third appointee, Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinowitz, has dealt with Cuomo as well, though not nearly as closely as the other two.. He is a co-chairman of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, one of 10 regional councils created by...Cuomo to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth. Just last month, Cuomo extended his term as well as those of the chairmen of the other regional councils.
So, while there may not be that much of a connection between Rabinowitz and the governor, I think the title of this post is certainly fair in referring to the other two as allies of the governor; they both did work to get him elected, after all. And note that neither of those campaign roles is mentioned in the otherwise comprehensive biographies of the three men included in the Gaming Commission's press release. As presently constituted, those two make up a majority of what constitutes a quorum, though we're told that two more members will be appointed.
Now, I certainly can't say that Governor Cuomo will simply pick up the phone and tell the panel members where he wants the casinos to be sited and to whom (though nor would I rule that out).
- Simulcast signals are the lifeblood of the racing industry these days, and it's all too common, as we know, for them to be the subject of disputes amongst various industry parties. We see fights between racetracks over payment rates for signals, as with the simmering situation between NYRA and Churchill Downs. And then there are the situations when horseman's groups exercise their right under the Interstate Horse Racing Act to withhold approval for interstate transmission of signals (Pullthepocket took a humorous look at that here, and a more serious one here.)
The ongoing situation at the Monitcello harness track however is apparently not your grandfather's signal fight. Led by the Standardbred Owners Association of New York president Joe Faraldo, the horsemen there are taking a stand against the provision in the casino law that would cap payments towards purses from VLT's at 2013 levels at any racino that gets a casino license.
“I expect a purse cut, because the last time this happened in 2006 that was the first thing they did,” said Faraldo. “I’m not looking short term, I’m looking long term. To remain competitive, the agricultural and horse industries need to share in the profit.” [Daily Racing Form]Monticello seems like a small stage for what is a much larger fight; indeed, this is an issue that cannot even be resolved strictly between the horsemen and the track management. Empire Resorts, as part of the NYGA, may have had a hand in inserting the provision as part of the backroom dealings that led to the language in the law; but it's the law and they surely can't change it by themselves. It remains to be seen whether Faraldo intends to hold out there indefinitely, or whether this is intended as a shot across the bow; a warning for the future as agreements at other tracks come up for renewal, especially at Yonkers, which would have a more significant impact to revenues for the track, and for the state. And, should the more staid thoroughbred horsemen get involved, then things could really get interesting. Stay tuned.