The "public comment events" for the casino bidding is scheduled for this Monday - Wednesday; 12-hour marathons each day, one in each of the regions being considered for a casino or maybe two. (Or maybe none. The location board is not actually required to site any casinos anywhere.) The schedule can be found here. James Odato notes in the Times Union that the hearings are likely to be "contentious." Hmm, y'think? Casino Free Tyre has 21 of the five-minute speaking slots booked, and plans to speak about, amongst other things, an old racketeering case involving developer Wilmorite Management Group (the indicted party was eventually acquitted on most of the charges). Save East Greenbush has 32 slots, and will, again amongst other things, reiterate complaints about the process taken by the East Greenbush town board that are the subject of its pending lawsuit. The union which is in a dispute with Rush Street Gaming will bus some workers from Chicago. The Sterling Forest Partnership has ten slots; and a group called CasiNo Orange is opposed to all proposed casinos there. And there will be casino supporters too.
So, the Gaming Commission has established some ground rules to try and keep things from getting too out of hand.
DecorumEach of the bidders is required to have at least one representative there....however, the speakers may not "pose comments or questions" to them directly....and the applicants may not make any "public comments" at all. That sounds odd and rather awkward.....some of the bidders' representatives may feel as if they are sitting in the dock without permission from the judge to respond as the accusations fly.
Speakers and participants may not disrupt or otherwise attempt to interfere with any individual’s opportunity to speak. Disorderly behavior will not be tolerated. Speakers engaging in personal attacks, using inflammatory language or failing to confine remarks to the identified subject or business at hand will be cautioned by the Chairman and given the opportunity to conclude remarks within the designated time limit.
Disruptions. Any person making offensive, insulting, threatening, intimidating or obscene remarks, or who becomes unruly during the Public Comment Event, will be requested to leave at the direction of any Board member. If necessary, the Board will request the assistance of law enforcement for the purpose of maintaining safety, order and decorum.
Meanwhile, Genting has itself a rather major problem in Tuxedo; all over less than 1,000 feet of County Route 106. That section of the road is owned by the Palisades Interstate Parkway Commission [PIPC]; and in a much-anticipated decision, that body voted unanimously to deny access to Genting.
Access to County Route 106 would help Genting build a new exit — interchange 15B — on the New York State Thruway, by allowing it to connect to Route 17A. That would provide access to the Sterling Forest Resort casino, which would be built on private property. Genting has said that building the casino hinges on building the exit, which would make it easier for an estimated 6.9 million annual visitors to reach the casino without using a longer, more circuitous route. [Times Herald-Record, limited free access]Here's the problem:
There currently is no exit there off of Route 87 (the NYS Thruway); Route 106 passes underneath and hooks up with 17A. In addition to a section of the road, the commission also controls Sterling Forest State Park, which would be adjacent to the casino.
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved that in the Palisades Park Commission’s opinion, the proposed development of New York State Thurway Exit 15B, in conjunction with Sterling Forest Resort, is not in accordance with our stewardship mission and the public trust to preserve the scenic beauty, natural resources and public enjoyment of Sterling Forest and Harriman State Parks. — from Palisades Interstate Park Commission Sterling Forest Resort Resolution [via Sloatsburg Village Local News & Community Life]So, that's a big issue for Genting. Other than the Asian baccarat players that they plan to shuttle into Stewart airport in private planes, getting there would be a major issue, enough to make it a no-go; at least that's what Genting has said. The ironic thing is that, according to the Herald-Record, it was just last December that Orange County turned Route 106 over to the PIPC. DOH! Now, they might want it back; but the decision stands, and only votes in both the NY and NJ legislatures can reverse it. And while Genting surely has enough money to
"By funding the design and construction of a new Thruway Interchange, 15B, and by creating a world-class, destination resort on a currently dilapidated site, Sterling Forest Resort will only expand that opportunity."I guess we'll see about that. Genting says they will explore alternate means of building the exit.
- Interesting article brought to my attention about the Sands casino in Bethlehem, PA. It is, by far, the most successful casino in Pennsylvania....and they are utilizing a strategy that is a key component of Genting's at Sterling Forest.
Experts say it's found a niche that hasn't been greatly affected by the economy or competition from the next state. By marketing itself heavily in the Asian neighborhoods of New York, Sands has developed an Asian customer base like few others in the nation. For example, it has 50 tables featuring the Asian-popular game baccarat — more than any other casino in the nation, according to gaming experts.Cheaper than flying them in from Beijing too.
As a result, more than 50 buses carrying more than 3,000 gamblers from New York neighborhoods of Flushing, Chinatown and Brooklyn flow into the Sands every day. [Morning Call]
- I wrote a lot here last fall about the "Advocacy Language" that appeared on the ballot for the casino referendum last fall, and the effort by lawyer Eric Snyder to have it altered. Although those attempts proved to be futile (and the language no doubt had a material effect on the final vote numbers), it appears as if they did not go entirely to waste. Good government groups are now on the lookout for additional attempts to use ballot language as a campaign tool inside the voting booth; and a court ruling yesterday prevented a similar fiasco.
In a victory for the segment of good-government groups opposed to the compromise constitutional amendment on redistricting, state Supreme Court Judge Patrick McGrath has ruled that the redistricting commission that would be created by the proposed change “cannot be described as ‘independent’ when eight out of the ten members are the handpicked appointees of the legislative leaders and the two additional members are essentially political appointees by proxy.”The constitutional amendment on the redistricting procedure itself has split good government groups. It was established in a deal between Governor Cuomo and Senate Republicans by which the latter got their way on redrawing the maps in 2012, despite the governor's prior promises to veto any such partisan drawing of the district lines. Some feel that the language that bans "partisan gerrymandering" is a sufficient improvement from the current system, in which the process is controlled by the majority party in each chamber. Others feel that any process which is ultimately controlled by the politicians whose re-election potentially depends on its outcome - as this clearly is - is subject to the usual partisan maneuvering and corruption. Guess which side I'm on.
The ruling calls on the state Board of Elections to remove the word “independent” from the ballot language. “No adjective preceding the word ‘commission’ is necessary to indicate the subject matter of proposed amendment in a clear and coherent manner,” McGrath wrote. [Capitol Confidential]