The Saratoga Springs City Council voted 5-0 against a casino at the harness track, for all the good it will do and for whatever it's worth. Which is not a helluva lot, in my view. Community support is, by law, supposed to be just a 20% component of the siting decision-making process. The Council cited the usual concerns about a casino's potential deleterious effect on downtown businesses and the culture of the town. (And I'm pretty sure that's the first time I've used the word deleterious in the 4,780 posts herein.)
But Saratoga Racetrack and Casino principal James Featherstonhaugh didn't seem to get the message. Michael DeMasi reports in the Albany Business Review:
Yet, James Featherstonhaugh, a longtime Albany lobbyist and minority owner of Saratoga Casino and Raceway, told me today the resolution is directed at the state law allowing upstate casinos, not specifically at the racino's desire to become a full-scale casino.Oh jeez. Seriously dude? I mean, you're really gonna make me go and do Michael DeMasi's job for him and quote directly from the resolution to show what a creep you are? What do you think this is, The Daily Show or something?
"The resolution, at least as I read it, doesn't say anything negative about us," Featherstonhaugh said.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the City Council expresses its opposition to the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act as it relates to a destination resort casino being placed in the City of Saratoga Springs, due to the following concerns...OK, well that settles that. And even without having read that, and without having been at any of the hearings that have taken place in Saratoga, I'm pretty confident that I'm correct in that this debate has, all along, been fully in the context of a casino in Saratoga.
Dan Hogan, a co-chairperson of the racino-funded Destination Saratoga, chimed in too.
The resolution, Hogan, said, "is exactly what we've been calling for throughout this debate: reserving judgment on expanded gaming at Saratoga Casino and Raceway until the state's request for applications is released and the details of the casino's bid are finalized."What a bunch of crap.
"We are confident that once the facts are available, the city council and the public alike will see the benefits of an enhanced Saratoga Casino and Raceway and also recognize the negative consequences of sending those benefits to another nearby community, and the choice will be clear."Hogan must have spent...I dunno, an hour, maybe two crafting this language. He could have saved himself the time by just writing: Fuck you Saratoga and stick your City Council vote. And while he's warning the city of the "negative consequences of sending those benefits to another nearby community," Jimmy Feathers very publicly went to scout possible alternative locations to "provide himself with options.” So he apparently would have no qualms about being the person responsible for the negative consequences of sending those benefits to another nearby community if the beneficiary of those benefits is himself and his partners at the harness track.
As I've been saying, Saratoga Casino & Raceway is gonna get this casino license, whether it's located in Saratoga or Rensselaer or wherever. Clearly, they could care less about what the community thinks, or about the effects of a casino on the city, whether it's located at the harness track or elsewhere. Meanwhile, it's March 7 as I write this, and the siting committee that is supposed to issue Requests For Proposals by the end of this month is not even fully appointed. (Though, as we've mentioned, the three that have been selected do presently constitute a quorum.) The longer this thing drags on, the more the existing racinos offer the advantage of expediency, given the governor's stated desire to see revenues flowing by early next year. That would conveniently slot in to the "economic activity and business development factor" that counts for 70% of the siting decision. The fix is in.