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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cuomo Seeks A Do-Over

When the Gaming Facility Location Board announced their three casino license recommendations a couple of weeks ago, we acknowledged that the process appeared to have been independent of outside influence - particularly that from the office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo - and admitted that we were wrong to predict and insist that that would not be the case.

But now, instead of interfering with the board's deliberations and decisions behind closed doors while the process was ongoing, the governor is doing so right out in the open, asking it to reconvene and reconsider its refusal to issue a license to the Southern Tier....the "true" Southern Tier, that is. 

"The Binghamton area is tied for the region with the highest unemployment rate in upstate New York, and stands to benefit greatly from new jobs and economic development in the region," the letter states. Cuomo wrote that he wants the siting board to consider issuing a new request for application "to seek a qualified applicant to submit a new bid" for the fourth license in the "true Southern Tier." [Albany Times Union]
  The governor is trying to get a do-over.  You know.  A do-over.  You remember.  When the whiny and entitled kid in the street or playground pick-up game would demand that a play that didn't go his/her way be re-played.  "I wasn't ready!"  "I called time out!"  "The ball hit the wire!"  "A car was coming!"  "Sally farted in my face!"

In this case, the lead crybaby was Jeff Gural...though, to be fair, he was leading a chorus of complaints from not only those in the Southern Tier who felt they were bypassed unfairly and unwisely, but from those who questioned the decision from around the state as well.  And we don't at all disagree with those cries.  The decision to award the Southern Tier region license to a location well north of it - one which is already filled with gambling options; and in a little rural town where opposition to a casino is adamant  - was a baffling one, no doubt.

But the problem is this: Cuomo's letter to the board comes not long after Gural, acting like the entitled crybaby that some consider him to be, ranted and raved like....well....an entitled crybaby. 
  ""Um, I was asked to help get the law passed. I spent about $800,000 of my own money to get Proposition One passed, only to get put out of business. I mean, I, I think it’s a joke to be honest with you."
.......
"And what really pisses me off is the governor asked me to spend $800,000 of my money to pass Local Law 1, Proposition One? What was that all about? I mean—why would—the whole thing is sickening to be honest with you." [Capital New York]
So, for the governor to react shortly thereafter by appealing to the board - which is made up of a co-chairman of his first gubernatorial campaign, another former campaign aide who he later appointed to chair a state agency, two gentlemen who he appointed to their current co-chairmanships of a regional economic development council, and another whose wife, a current Westchester District Attorney, he once appointed to head a prominent ethics committee - to let the crybaby get his way, seems rather inappropriate.  Though hardly atypical or surprising.  Sure, Cuomo's letter couches his intentions in an effort to "excite national competition by interested parties that submit even better applications than the first round." But nobody really believes that any parties other than Gural and Tioga Downs would be interested in a region in which no outside companies were interested even before Atlantic City casinos started going broke, making it increasingly apparent that the northeast is over-saturated with gambling facilities.  Nor that this is anything other than a direct effort to set things right with a person who actively supported one of his key initiatives with his mouth and his money.

The governor, having sat out the casino selection process, contrary to every bone in his body and perhaps due to federal investigations into the Moreland Commission which we have good reason to believe are underway, can no longer help himself.  If the board's recommendations served to quash your belief that there were no stated or implied understandings whatsoever when the NYGA agreed at the last minute to not oppose the casino referendum, these developments should serve to make you think again, as I have.  And, again, none of this is to mean that, strictly on the facts on the ground, Cuomo is wrong to ask the board to reconsider what would indeed appear to be a questionable omission.  It's just that the way it has come about, and considering these persons involved, as well as the history of inside dealing behind closed doors that Albany, and this administration in particular, is notorious for, makes it all seem quite unseemly.  To put it one way.  Though equally quite typical. 

 - The Head Chef and I are currently down in Florida; and, as we are marking a special celebration as the calendar turns to 2015, we will be headed towards climes even further south of here on New Year's Day for an extended vacation.  So, I'm thinking that you likely won't be hearing from me for a bit!  A Happy, Healthy, and Safe New Year to all, and thanks, as always, for your readership and support.

6 Comments:

Bonnie L. said...

Thanks for being a great gate keeper, Alan. Wishing you a prosperous new year.

jk said...

Happy New Year Alan and congrats on your special celebration.

Figless said...

FROM SATURDAY'S NY POST:

Horse in the race

One example of Sharpton’s playbook has emerged in tax filings and a state inspector general’s report.

In 2008, Plainfield Asset Management, a Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund, made a $500,000 contribution to New York nonprofit Education Reform Now. That money was immediately funneled to the National Action Network.

The donation raised eyebrows. Although the money was ostensibly to support NAN’s efforts to bring “educational equality,” it also came at a time that Plainfield was trying to get a lucrative gambling deal in New York.

Plainfield had a $250 million stake in Capital Play, a group trying to secure a license to run the coming racino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Capital Play employed a lobbyist named Charlie King, who also was the acting executive director of NAN.

Sharpton has said that most of the Plainfield contribution went to pay King’s salary.

King’s company, the Movement Group, was paid $243,586 by NAN in 2008, tax records show.

Harold Levy, a former New York City schools chancellor who was a managing director at Plainfield at the time, has denied the contribution was made to curry favor with Sharpton or anyone else. But a year later, as the battle for the racino license heated up, NAN raked in another $100,000 from representatives of the AEG consortium, which was the successor company to Capital Play.

One AEG member e-mailed another in 2009 saying, “Sharpton lobbied [then-Gov. David Paterson] hard over the weekend on our behalf,” according to the state inspector general’s 2010 report on the corrupt racino licensing process.

Harold Levy, a former Plainfield director, denied the company donated to NAN for Sharpton’s favor.

In order to discredit SL Green, one of the rival bidders whose plan included a Hard Rock Hotel, an AEG executive sent another e-mail outlining tactics to conscript local leaders to its cause.

“We are going to need it, and we are going to need . . . Sharpton to piss on hard rock,” according to the undated e-mail cited in the IG’s report.

Sharpton denied he lobbied on behalf of AEG.

The donations, meanwhile, came at an opportune time for Sharpton, as NAN was deep in debt to the IRS in 2008. It owed $1.3 million in unpaid federal, state and city payroll taxes including interest and penalties.

AEG viewed its payments to Sharpton as more of an insurance policy so he wouldn’t scuttle its chances by criticizing the group, said a source familiar with the racino controversy.

Figless said...

Does anyone at the IRS, or NYS for that matter, have the guts to truly audit Sharpton's non-profit?

Anonymous said...

Sharpton owns the democrats.

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