RSS Feed for this Blog

Friday, June 01, 2007

Empire Cries Foul...Again

- Empire's has accused Excelsior and NYRA of secretly meeting to discuss a possible joint venture.

“The information relayed was so specific as to include an actual breakdown of how the two bidders would plan to distribute VLT percentages between themselves,’’ Jeff Perlee, Empire’s CEO, said in the letter to state officials.

John Lee, a NYRA spokesman, denied any such meetings occurred. “No one from NYRA has been in any consultation or conversations with people from Excelsior since before the bids were placed in August,’’ Lee said.

“This allegation is unequivocally and completely false,’’ said Katie Burke, a spokeswoman for Excelsior, whose partners include casino developer Steve Wynn. [Bloodhorse]
Perlee said that the two should be disqualified for violating non-collusion agreements and integrity standards the Spitzer administration established for the bidding. But a spokesperson for Spitzer's office said he wasn't certain if state rules would prohibit contact between competitors. [AP] Some people, including our reader Green Mtn Punter, have speculated that the two would eventually hook up.

This is not the first time that Perlee has accused Excelsior of impropriety. As reported by the Albany Times Union last December 9, he wrote to the Ad Hoc Committee to accuse his competitor of utilizing unregistered lobbyists , claiming that would be grounds for disqualification. Subsequently, the only person investigated for acting as an unregistered lobbyist was Empire's own director Jared Abbruzzese, with respect to his tangled business relationship with Senator Joseph Bruno which sparked an FBI investigation of the latter, the results of which are still pending, remaining a possible ticking time bomb for Empire. So we'll hold off on any further comment on these new allegations until and if more information becomes available.

NYRA is under fire for raises and pension contributions it plans to give to its non-union administrators.
"We're asking them to reconsider the 3 percent pay raise and the pension contribution and we are expressing our concern about the high level of spending on legal services," said Carole Stone, chairwoman of the state's Non-Profit Racing Association Oversight Board. The board has no power to stop the spending, Stone said. [AP]
What the hell good is an Oversight Board if it can't exercise oversight?? The board was informed that NYRA's legal expenses will total some $10 million this year, mostly related to its bankruptcy filing....which of course, wouldn't have occurred if the state had signed off on the Aqueduct racino. The raises and pension contributions would total around $650,000.

The board is also concerned about a deal that NYRA wants to enter with Sprint to erect a cellphone tower on the Aqueduct grandstand. It's a 30 year deal, and the state wants to see some language put into the contract in the event Aqueduct is no longer operating as a racetrack during the 30-year life of the deal. [Bloodhorse]

- Just a quick note - our reader Late Scratch had guessed that the owners' box being donated for the Belmont Child Care Association raffle was courtesy of Richard Bromze. I'm told that though Mr. Bromze has been an enthusiastic supporter over the years, the box was donated this year, and every year, by Ms. Viola Sommer, who my fellow NYRA veterans are well familiar with from the days when she teamed with trainer Frankie Martin to dominate the claiming game in New York in the 70's.