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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Saratoga Mayor is Keehn on Franchise Decision

- The New York State Senate will reconvene on Monday, but as of now, there are no announced plans for the Assembly to do so. In any event, don't expect to see anything happen regarding the racing franchise anytime soon, with issues considered to be more paramount still to be dealt with. Of course, very little will get done as long as Spitzer and Bruno are feuding so viciously. Perhaps with that, as well as the criticism of his demeanor and the resulting sympathy for Bruno in mind, Spitzer toned down his act - just a little - on Tuesday. “I’m encouraged that we will get there in a bipartisan spirit and in a bipartisan way.”

Bruno's spokesperson told the Times: “We are going to deal with priorities of this state, which is the upstate economy, which is needed capital investments, the senior rebates.” But the Senator's priorities are not the same as Spitzer's. It's the issue of campaign finance reform, which Bruno naturally opposes, which is really at the heart of the animosity, and, in my view, the driving force behind the brouhaha regarding Bruno's use of state transportation on trips that included fundraising.

Even yesterday, when Bruno accompanied NYC Mayor Bloomberg to Washington, I presume at taxpayers' expense, to lobby for the mayor's proposed regressive tax in the form of congestion pricing, one can question his motives. Yes, any revenue the city receives from the fees, and the federal aid it will receive only if the plan is approved by Monday, will at least indirectly relieve some strain on the state government; and that is in Bruno's and the taxpayers' interest. But with the Republicans fighting to hold on to their tenuous majority in the Senate, did Bruno really travel solely to fight for an issue that doesn't directly concern his upstate constituency? Or could it have been to score points with Bloomberg, a generous campaign contributor who recently announced his switch from the GOP to the independent line.

Mr. Bloomberg’s support for Republican candidates is critical; the mayor has been the biggest individual donor to Senate Republicans, according to state campaign finance records, giving $575,000 since October. He also gave the New York State Republican Committee $175,000 in the same period. (During that time, by contrast, he did not donate to any Democrats in the Legislature.)
Asked about Mr. Bloomberg’s support for state Republicans.., Stu Loeser, a Bloomberg spokesman, said, “Mayor Bloomberg has always said he’ll support those who support New York City. Time after time over the last six years, the State Senate has been extraordinarily helpful to us.” [NYT]
Saratoga mayor Valerie Keehn has written a letter to Spitzer, begging him to make up his mind already about the franchise! (The letter is linked to as a Word document from the Albany Times Union's Capitol Confidential blog.)
All of the candidates have strengths and weaknesses that provide a rational basis for choosing one over another; but, in the final analysis, the time for evaluation is coming to an end and the time to make a decision is at hand.
She repeats some familiar pleas, such as those to guarantee Saratoga's exclusive dates, and to not install VLT's at the historic track. But she takes a stand on the idea of splitting the franchise (no), and on the closing of Aqueduct:
I strongly support the position of my colleagues on the Ad Hoc Committee, Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee Chairman Gary Pretlow and Assembly Member Audrey Pheffer, who oppose the idea of selling the Aqueduct property for commercial real estate development. Assembly Member Pheffer’s district includes the Aqueduct racetrack, and, knowing the central role that a racetrack can play in a local economy, I am especially supportive of her opposition to discontinuing thoroughbred racing at Aqueduct. More importantly, I am convinced that selling Aqueduct would irreparably damage New York’s ability to conduct world class thoroughbred racing in an annual cycle that begins at Aqueduct, proceeds to Belmont, comes to a summer crescendo in Saratoga, and then returns again to Belmont and Aqueduct.
Thank you, Ms. Mayor.

1 Comment:

saratogablogger said...

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