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Friday, August 22, 2014

Ticklish Spot for Jimmy Feathers

A bit more here on the East Greenbush Town Board meeting on Wednesday that we discussed in the last post.  I didn't see this article in the Albany Times-Union until after I was done writing it.  Since I do mostly try to be mostly fair, I did note that I was getting my information about the one-sidedness of the comments at the meeting in favor of the anti-casino side from the No East Greenbush Casino Facebook page.  They're kinda against the casino, one might say.

But, as we know, the Times-Union is always fair, despite what Joe Bruno may think (except sometimes when Odato is writing about NYRA), so it's surely worth noting that this article describes "impassioned pleas by a standing-room-only crowd dominated by anti-casino residents."

Tempers and distrust ran high during the meeting, with several residents complaining bitterly about a lack of transparency in the casino application process. Of the two dozen or so speakers, just four people spoke in favor of the $300 million proposal.
Resident Jack Conway delivered a 400-page report that included a poll that showed 678 people signed a pro-casino petition over the summer, with 34 percent of them town residents. By comparison, 2,025 anti-casino signatures included 80 percent town residents. "We're telling you, in no uncertain terms that we don't want a casino," Conway said, to resounding applause. [Albany Times-Union]
As we mentioned, James Featherstonhaugh was there on behalf of Saratoga Raceway & Casino and, noting the anger against him, he quoted, according to the account, Ronald Reagan: "If you want to create controversy, change something."

I was curious as to the context in which Ronald Reagan said that, because I dunno, one might suppose that the 40th POTUS may have been opposed to the notion of "trickle-up" economics like casinos. So I did some Googling.  I couldn't find anything like it, so I question whether the quote really came from him.  The closest thing I could find was: “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.”  So I am not sure exactly where Feathers got it from.  Maybe Rita Cox.

In any event, Jimmy Feathers must be getting more than just a little frustrated at this point.  He probably thought that it was going to be a piece of cake to win a license for the Saratoga harness track.  Instead, he was run out of town by the howls of opposition from proud Saratogians who feared for the character of the town. So, he went looking around, and I recall him visiting the E23 site and the one in Schenectady.  But instead, he landed in another town that just does not seem to want a casino in their community.....but which, unlike in Saratoga, apparently has decision makers that he's been able to charm.  (Or persuade, cajole, arm-twist, etc.,)  And while the Town Board is obviously, and for whatever reason, not listening to the opponents, the siting board presumably will - presumably - as the opposition keeps the pressure on, as they no doubt will. (As Ronald Reagan once said: "When you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat.")  As opposed to East Greenbush, there seems to be no organized opposition in Rensselaer, a town that voted for the casino referendum, if narrowly. The mayor is gung ho (his $10 million offer to Albany was accepted, kinda), and the necessary resolutions were passed without any fuss that I'm aware of. It seems like an obviously better fit.

So Feathers has some serious problems here - a SEQRA process that hasn't even started, and another organized and passionate opposition.   Of course, he has the Newburgh project too; like Rensselaer, a community which needs the jobs and the (perceived) benefits of a casino.  As I've been saying, I will be flabbergasted if he doesn't get one or the other.

 - This article in the Times Herald-Record (again, it's limited free access, so click on the link judiciously if you care) discusses the financial incentives being provided by Genting to the town of Tuxedo.  We've mentioned them before; amongst other perks, $50 million for Tuxedo, $10 million for neighboring Tuxedo Park.
The first $1.5 million installment of the $50 million gift is due in the coming days and is nonrefundable.
(These as opposed to the paltry offers being made by the Nevele to their far more desperate host communities.)  Christian Goode, the CFO of Genting America, told the Times-Record's editorial board that they're not just trying to buy support.  They really care.  Really.
"I think it's respectful and appropriate, given the opportunity," said Goode during an editorial board meeting Tuesday at the Times Herald-Record. "What we've committed to providing the town and to the region is based solely on the economic opportunity and our ability to deliver a unique product."
In a sign of its commitment, Genting will buy the 238 acres where the project would sit, whether it wins the casino license or not, Goode said.
Well, we shall see about that, won't we?  This is the same company that pledged "to work closely with NYRA to transform [Aqueduct] into a casino and racetrack that will be the envy of the country.” (It's not.)  And then they broke their promise to help keep the place clean, and delayed the construction of the Longshots simulcast facility.  So, if I lived in Tuxedo, I'd take their promises with a grain of salt.  ("Trust, but verify," as Ronald Reagan once said.)


Bonnie said...

Another spot, right on article, Alan. East Greenbush residents plans on beating Feathers at his game. We are being used as pawns for his self gain, but the so called King, will be Check-Mated. We the residents are watching every move our town board, zoning board and planning board makes, very closely. Improprieties have been noted by them before. We welcome all media outlets to observe and report on the Chess Match, playing out in our town. We will win, because the King is vulnerable. His Queen and Bishops are vulnerable too. We have players who are very skilled in offensive maneuvers. We are very determined to win. It's our town now, not Feathers, and we plan on keeping it that way. Much gratitude for your voice.

Bill said...

Alan, I appreciate and respect your clear and cogent review. As mentioned it is SPOT ON! It is astonishing that our local EG Town Board (except for one ...) has the inability to see, or the lack of courage to admit this casino initiative "process" is so egregious that it defies logic for any support whatsoever. Feathers blatant incentive (BRIBE) to Albany to support this initiative after they voted to reject the same for their town is the highest level of hypocrisy and lack of moral character I've ever witnessed. It is seriously disturbing all of the self interests and complete disregard for facts, history, empirical evidence and the complete absence of any analytic process on any data from the developer's. Simply astonishing and irresponsible and absurd. The EG Town Board members who are still in support of this very flawed idea are going to feel the wrath of the voters. They are going to be fired by the voters and they have seriously underestimated the strength and resolve of the clear thinking residents in opposition to this initiative. Again, many thanks for your clear sound voice on this issue.

Figless said...

Here's wishing the EG residents good luck in your fight. I thankfully don't have a Casino coming to my town, but my neighbors and I are always concerned some politically connected developer will discover our own little Shangri-La and ruin a lifetime's worth of work.

Can only imagine what you are going through and sympathize with your plight.

Thanks to Alan as well for helping to shine the light on this dark dirty process, any one of us could be next.