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Monday, February 11, 2008

Franchise Notes - Feb 11

- We saw varying reports over the weekend regarding the likelihood of a franchise settlement, ranging from the pessimistic and un-proofread report in the Daily News that I mentioned on Saturday, to Paul Post's piece in the Sunday Saratogian, which called a deal imminent, with details to be announced as soon as Monday and certainly no later than Wednesday.

Governor Spitzer has already acknowledged that his budget was too optimistic given current economic conditions, and has lowered his revenue expectations by $384 million in anticipation of lower receipts. But don't despair - James Odato reports this morning in the Albany Times Union that the state can still afford a bailout of the New York Racing Association....and there's the 'b' word again. Odato also reports that NYRA is holding firm, and that the state is starting to give in.

So far, NYRA officials have turned down the plan worked out privately by the Senate, Assembly and Spitzer officials.

However, the negotiators removed one objectionable term: That any vote of the NYRA board require a supermajority. It also was expected to capitulate on the composition of the NYRA board to get the deal done. Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, who has been advocating for a greater government control of NYRA's board, said the plan was to set up a board with only one NYRA appointee more than the number of government appointees.

Plans being discussed over the weekend involved giving NYRA 13 members and the Legislature and Spitzer a total of 11. [Albany Times Union]
So thus far, the negotiations continue behind closed doors, and we haven't seen the politicians make the public display of their newfound unity being thwarted by an intransigent NYRA that I had anticipated. Such perhaps is the perceived strength of NYRA's claim to the land, and it's entirely possible that the state will totally back down as it has each and every time that the association has threatened to take the claim to court. I do still believe however that NYRA also has an incentive to bend in order to reach a settlement, to avoid having the onus of a shutdown placed on them by Albany and the press. Or, maybe I'm totally wrong, and they don't care about perceptions. I guess we'll soon find out.

- Jerry Bailey told Paul Post that Excelsior no longer exists.
Two months ago, Excelsior rejected a proposal from the state to develop a hotel and convention center only at Belmont, without gaming, he said. Since then, for all intents and purposes, the firm no longer exists.

“Not with what’s on the table from the Legislature,” Bailey said. [Saratogian]
And Post reports that Empire left its Saratoga office when its lease expired last month. CEO Jeff Perlee could not be reached for comment regarding the firm’s current status.

- A couple of readers mentioned this editorial in the NY Times, with one opining: The NY Times says it's Bush's fault?? Wow, that's a first. The editorial questions why the federal investigation of Bruno has taken so long, and I'd agree that its hypothesis that the Bush Administration may have slowed it for political reasons is purely speculative. However, given the scandal of the politicization of federal attorneys under former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, I don't think it's at all unreasonable for the Times to assert that the Justice Department hardly deserves the benefit of the doubt in its handling of investigations of Republicans. And the editorial writer somehow neglected to even mention the fact that the White House took Glenn T. Suddaby, the prosecutor that initiated the case, off of the job by nominating him for a federal judgeship.


Anonymous said...

Great recap, Alan. Here is one more from the NY Times....

Bruno’s Activities Give Pause to Ethics School

Published: February 11, 2008
ALBANY — The federal investigation of the Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, is weighing on a Connecticut school dedicated to teaching ethics.

How’s that?

Wright Investors’ Service, an investment firm that had employed Mr. Bruno, below, for more than a decade, is largely owned by the School for Ethical Education. John Winthrop Wright, the former chairman and chief executive of Wright Investors’ Service, founded the school and left his Wright holdings to it upon his death in 1996. The school has no students of its own but teaches ethics courses to students at institutions ranging from elementary schools to colleges.

Anonymous said...

Message to Alan: The Times blaming the NY racing franchise crisis on Bush is a first? Where have you been, amigo?! According to the Times genuises who write such nonsense, and who drink their own Kool-Aid every morning like most mortals drink OJ, everything that is wrong everywhere on earth can be traced to good ol' W. The self-proclaimed "newspaper of record" has become laughable. The same Times that dropped coverage of NY racing is now telling us what is wrong with NY racing. How could they possibly know?
/S/ Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

I was just joking that EVERYTHING negative that happens in the world is attributed to GW Bush, in one forum or another.

A local library opening was delayed and the second paragraph in my local paper blamed it on Bush.

It's just so absurd at this point.