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Monday, December 28, 2009

NYRA Vs. The Comptroller

Personally, I don't recall NYRA ever claiming to be "financially stable," as Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli claims in demanding to see its books. I could have missed something of course, but why would it ever say that? And why would the mainstream press, both industry and otherwise, merely accept such a statement without making any effort whatsoever to confirm or dispute it (especially when it doesn't seem to make any sense)? I haven't seen a single reporter follow that claim by writing either something like: "In July, Charles Hayward issued a statement saying that NYRA was on solid financial footing;" or "DiNapoli's claim seems unsubstantiated based on NYRA's public pronouncements." That's just lazy reporting to me.

Regardless of what NYRA may or may not have said, you and I know of course that the state has been well aware that NYRA's solvency was on a timeline, and that it would not be financially stable until slots were up and running. Why else would the state have promised to provide funding to NYRA for its operational needs if a casino at Aqueduct was not up and running by the end March 2009. [DRF] In March, following the collapse of the Delaware North deal, Hayward said that NYRA would be fine though the third quarter of 2010. The latest warning comes a little earlier than that, but so has business continued to lag, not to mention the $14 million owed to it by NYCOTB.

To me, this reeks of an effort by the state to take the focus off of its pathetically shameful failure to name an operator at the Big A. And while Steve Zorn thinks that NYRA is mistaken to take on DiNapoli in his fine analysis of the situation, I don't blame the association for telling the Comptroller to take a hike. DiNapoli, remember, is just a politician who was strongarmed into the position over far more qualified candidates by an Assembly flexing its muscle against a crassly domineering new governor. And when a politician starts spewing recycled meaningless crap like "It's the same old NYRA in new sheep's clothing," then he or she is probably up to something. Financial records can be subject to misinterpretation by politicians who know nothing about the industry or how it operates, especially one with an agenda, which certainly seems to be the case here.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Steve Zorn. Charlie and Steve, if you have nothing to hide do the right think and open your books to Di Napoli's auditors.

Anonymous said...

NYRA’s Statement in response to DiNapoli’s subpoenas is full of arrogance and is incorrect.

NYRA had a claim in Bankruptcy Court to the land which makes up Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct racetracks. Most people, including then candidate Spitzer, thought this claim totally bogus and called NYRA a corrupt organization. Spitzer in office then changed his tune and awarded NYRA hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers money and a new 25 year franchise, including allowing NYRA control of its Board of Directors. Why?

The Feds prosecuted and obtained convictions for Joe Bruno for corruption of $3 million over 15 years. When is some Government authority going to look at how come a corrupt organization was allowed to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayers money and a new 25 year franchise in 2007 from a discredited former Governor?

Surely it is time to shine a light on the cesspool that is the history of NYRA and finally bring people to account.

Anonymous said...

How arrogant is the NYRA? It continues to behave in the same old bad way it has done for many many years. It continues to rip-off NY Taxpayers with its corrupt ways. New NYRA promised to change. Clearly it has not done so.

NYRA is due to get 16% of the VLT money from the Aqueduct casino which could be as much as $80-100 million per annum. It is time to purge this organization once and for all. Make sure it is run by competent management with a Board of Directors which is accountable to NY Taxpayers before they get their hands on this $80-100 million per annum from Aqueduct.

The State needs to learn that one does not reward crooks with the keys to the bank vault. Governor Paterson, you stood up to entrenched interested groups in the recent budget impasse. Surely you can stand up to NYRA and its continued crooked and incompetent ways.

Anonymous said...

I have seen NYRA do many stupid things but refusing to open its books in an environment of Bernie Madoff and taxpayers demanding accountability is plainly stupid. NYRA cannot win and wont win this battle.

NYRA, you will not only have to open your books but also you will have to give a few heads on a platter to satisfy a resurgent Governor and Controller who are both running for reelection in 2010.

Charlie, if I were you I would start packing up your office. I very much doubt you will survive this offensive.

Anonymous said...

Worth remembering Albert Einstein’s excellent quote:

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Leaders in Albany have clearly been insane when it comes to decisions on the NYRA for many decades.

Governor Paterson and Tom Di Napoli have an opportunity to show true leadership and put an end to NYRA’s incompetent leadership and corrupt ways.

Anonymous said...

NYRA and the State are subject to the Franchise Agreement. Its enforceability will be determined by the federal Bankruptcy Court in which it was filed. The document provides little leverage for the State to audit.

NYRA may sound arrogant, but why should they relent over an item that isn't included in the agreement?

If there is a real issue, the Office of the Attorney General has substantial investigatory and enforcement powers as NYRA is organized as a not-for-profit corporation.

DiNapoli is politically grandstanding with Mr. Hayward's rather foolish threats to close before the Belmont. The Comptroller's statements have a real Nixon enemies feel to it ...

El Angelo said...

Zorn is 100% right. NYRA has nothing to lose by fighting this battle except proving DiNapoli right that they have something to hide and are crooks. Further, given that the state needs every penny it can get, why even given Albany the opportunity to revisit how much dough NYRA gets when the slots eventually open? Open the books, respond, and move along.

Anonymous said...

NYRA is and has always been a money pit; it hasn't shown a profit in years, and it really is a good ole' boys' club.

Twenty-six directors to supervise an organization about as complicated as running a lemonade stand. Just what are the tough decisions that justify a president making $500,00 or more a year?

Giving NYRA a percentage of slot revenue so they can increase purses further and renovate Saratoga is simply disgusting.

Why is NYRA allowed to continue to exist when they never are profitable?

Anonymous said...


Remember the previous NYRA audit attempts, by the comptroller’s office, just before the present requested audit requirements.
Fraud charges were originally directed.

NYRA eventually admitted, lesser charges, of unpaid $54 million in franchise fees from 2000 to 2005, so encumbered figures were lot higher.

Charlie Hayward has been officially muzzled by the NYRA board.
Tensions are presently lot higher than normal, within the complex, political NYRA board.

This time around though, even the state connected NYRA directors are guarding their communitive grunts, during present NYRA meetings.

Stay fighting, Mr Charlie Hayward. Don't be the fall guy.
We're all behind you.


In answer to 3.59pm - Why is NYRA allowed to continue to exist when they are never profitable?

- because, a while back, NY racing was so powerful & so became, so political. NY is, after all, US's, most capitalistic, taxed city.

Look at NYOTB, a similar public benefit corporation, (created 1970). It has avoided bankruptcy by spending its cash reserves and deferring payments on many of its obligations.

It went broke & then broker, displaying it was indeed, broken, before solutions were forced upon it's once, wealthy old boys, political sticky web.

Anonymous said...

"NYRA has nothing to lose"?

What about money? Who will pay for the audit? The Taxpayers? Or will they force NYRA to pay the fees to some Getnick and Getnick type politically connected friend of DiNapolis?

How about the cost of compliance?

NYRA is currently audited under the franchise agreement, there is no need for duplicate work for political purposes.

The Attorney General, not the State Comptroller, has the right to audit NYRA as currently organized. DiNapoli should go through proper channels and forward his complaint to Coumo and if Coumo feels an audit is warranted he should proceed. NYRA would then "open the books" as required.

I have no horse in this race, but I recognized a political ploy (diversion) when I see one.

Anonymous said...

Forget about the merits of Di Napoli's case. In an era of Madoff, TARP, taxpayers feeling that they have been ripped off by an unresponsive system that seems to reward the rich and powerful at the expense of 'Joe public', NYRA (an organization of very rich and powerful Board members) has to show competence and good political judgment, especially in a reelection year which has already kicked-off.

So what has been NYRA's response to Di Napoli (and Governor Paterson)? Its leadership stonewalls. Di Napoli's response is to orchestrate a very good anti NYRA campaign and dredge up all the corruption of NYRA's past. One should suspect the hand of support of Governor Paterson in this effort and who can blame him after Charlie Hayward's outbursts a few weeks ago which seemed to lay the blame for the lack of a VLT decision at Aqueduct directly at the Governor's feet.

NYRA's leadership, headed by Steve Dunker and Charlie Hayward, aka "Dumb and Dumber."

Pack up your offices boys. I think your days are numbered.

Anonymous said...


re ; 7.48am blog.

Isn't all of it, political.

Thing is now, after this new foreplay - how far is Coumo's, 'arm's length' & what body, is directing the limbs.

Then, what does this body's diet, consist of.

Definately not, NYRA's Charter, being NY Racing & NY broad based communities.

jk said...

With NYRA saying there might not be a Belmont, someone has to take a look at it. If not Napoli, then whoever is supposed to audit NYRA.

The statement made by Mr. Heyward can not be left to stand on its own.

Anonymous said...

I acknowledge it was a very stupid statement by charlie and he could and probably should pay the price for his stupidity (and his salary, as reported, if true, IS obscene in this climate).

However, as a horseman suffering now for many years without the influx of purse money, I share his frustration with the process and his desire to nudge these jackasses to a decision.

Anonymous said...

Charlie should not have to be the only head to go. Chairman Dunker should go as well.

Anonymous said...

I thought the Comptroller of New York had the responsibility and authority to audit ALL tax payer dollars spent. Surely he has a right to audit the $105 million given to NYRA as well as future VLT money. I for one would want his office to protect our money and know it is being spent wisely and in accordance with the law.

Lets be honest, given NYRA's history, would you trust them with your money? Remember they stole the horsemen's money in the past. Past transgressions are a good reflection of future deeds.

Anonymous said...

Everyone loves to jump on the wagon and complain about taxpayer money, let's remember here that the state took 1 billion dollars worth of NYRA land for the ~$105 million that was given to NYRA to get them out of bankruptcy. NYRA wasn't bailed out using taxpayer money. If you think about it, they got the short end. Also-the terms of the $105 million said that if NYRA wasn't earning VLT money by early 2009, the state would give them more money. The solution is simple, stop the political b.s. and choose the winning VLT company and NYRA and the state will be making substantial money from the casino at Aqueduct.

Anonymous said...

NYRA's has a history of corruption. It stole the horsemen’s money when it was short of cash in the past. It also cheated the State out of $54 million in taxes between 2000 and 2005.

It was the Comptroller’s office which discovered this $54 million theft and not any of the other State agencies that NYRA claims is responsible for monitoring its books.

Clearly NYRA has a history of hood-winking a myriad of State agencies but not the Comptroller’s auditors.

We can all agree that the leadership in Albany should have picked a VLT operator by now. However these are two different issues. Why would anyone not support a full audit of taxpayers money. I for one do.

Anonymous said...

NYRA claimed it owned the land in Bankruptcy Court. The court never adjudicated this case. NYRA gave up its claim, not its ownership of the $1.0 billion land, in exchange for a new 25 year racing franchise.

The franchise agreement also required NYRA to cooperate with an audit of its books by the Comptroller's office. If NYRA wants to change this clause, then surely the State can change other clauses, including changing the term from 25 years to a lower number.

I for one would suggest the State knock off the 5 and end NYRA's franchise at the end of 2 years because I agree with Tom Di Napoli that new NYRA is Old NYRA in sheeps clothing.

Anonymous said...

I hope some of the commenters here don't handicap the races as poorly as they handicapped this one. What happened to looking at the entire picture before making a conclusion? Oh yeah, NYRA is involved, so why bother looking at the facts.

I forget, which NYRA official kidnapped the Lindberg baby? I'm sure some of the respondants here know but perhaps they are waiting for someone with an agenda to tell them.

Anonymous said...

If NYRA is everyone's whipping boy it only has itself to blame. This latest Di Napoli flap is dumb and self-inflicted. It smacks of arrogance at best or a cover up of criminal actions at worst (which I doubt).

When will NYRA learn? Is it a mature enough organization to conduct its operations in a transparent manner or will it have to be dragged kicking and screaming thereby tarnishing an important sport which needs public support and good will to survive and hopefully expand and flourish.

Anonymous said...

NYRA was corrupt once and how do we know it has changed its ways or is still corrupt unless it is audited? The Comptroller's office caught the $50 million fraud the last time so is clearly the agency to monitor NYRA this time and continue to audit it into the future.

NYRA should have nothing to fear unless it has something to hide.

Charlie Hayward said...

Thank you for your insights into the recent remarks by the Comptroller. I would like to offer your many anonymous commentators and you the opportunity to come forward and join me in either a podcast which we will run on the NYRA website or perhaps on our cable TV show that runs on dark days. As you suggest, facts are usually more beneficial than rhetoric. Is it possible that your anonymous commentators would be willing to step out and participate in such a forum. I would hope so. Keep up the good work, banging on NYRA or otherwise. In the end, it is all about the racing or am I missing something. Regards, Charlie Hayward

Anonymous said...

Concerned Citizens.

I am sure, many in the racing fraternity and Queens community, would take up this offer with the new NY racing management or entity, after NYRA has been gutted and cleansed or dissolved.

Anonymous said...

30 Dec '09 -

State gives NYRA strict ultimatum

---- "NYRA has two weeks to turn over its financial records and four weeks to make its officials available to us for interviews," Freeman said.

"If NYRA does not comply, then our office will take legal action. NYRA could also take legal action in the coming days.

Hopefully, given NYRA’s limited financial resources, it won’t waste too much money on what is clearly our authority to audit their records."


"Beware the Idles ("to divide"), of March" - NY State/fiscal record's, will incorporate, at end of 1st quarter 2010, along lines to NYRA/Spokesperson(s) -
//// As the Senate convened, Caesar was attacked and stabbed to death by a group of senators who called themselves the Liberatores ("Liberators"); they justified their action on the grounds that they committed tyrannicide, not murder, and were preserving the Republic from Caesar's alleged monarchical ambitions///

Signed ; - Queens Community, from NY grass roots, congealed human & horse blood. Yes it's now, that serious !

Happy New Year NYRA.

Alan Mann said...

I can confirm that the post from Charlie Hayward is legitimate. Seems fair to me....don't understand the sentiments of the commenter who followed in rejecting the offer of an open forum and discussion of the issues, especially one which comes in the face of such hostility and invective on this board.

Anonymous said...

This blog is the ultimate in democracy. The secret ballot. A lot of people don't trust NYRA, so I doubt it a lot of people will disclose their identity.

Anonymous said...

NYRA has a history of punishing what it perceives as enemies. Clearly Charlie is concerned about the criticism and if I were him I would be concerned for my career. He will be the fall guy here. What are the odds he will be at NYRA by the end of 2010. I would think those odds are very short.

Anonymous said...

Paul Post's article in The Saratogian states that the Comptroller's Office informed NYRA of the audit in October. I don't understand why NYRA will not comply, particularly in the current environment where taxpayers (voters) are demanding accountability for public spending by politicians.

We are entering an election year so I bet that NYRA will have to step down on this one. I suppose we will know the outcome quickly as The Saratogian article states that NYRA has 2 weeks to comply.

Anonymous said...

This NYRA vs Tom Di Napoli stinks. Once again NYRA has put its foot in its mouth and brought allegations of corruption at the highest levels to the beautiful Sport of Kings.

NYRA is the custodian of our Sport in New York and it should be above reproach and go overboard to demonstrate its honesty and integrity.

Anonymous said...

Appears on the face of it that Charlie is being very fair, offering all you anonymous critics an opportunity to discuss the issue face to face, out in the open, man to man.

If you have facts to back up your charges(s) take him up on his offer.

If you are making crap up due to a personnel vendetta, or worse because you are a paid hitman for someone, then continue to hide under your rocks by remaining anonymous.

If you have facts, respond to his offer or post the information here or somewhere on line.

I have no skin in the game except as a horsemen, and any fair minded individual can see that NYRA has zero to do with the delays in the VLT franchise award, and that Di Napoli has an agenda.

Do I think NYRA, and Charlie, are doing a great job? Actually not, but lets be fair, their hands ARE tied just a tad by financial limitations (lack of VLTs, NYCOTB non payments).

Do I believe Charlie went just a bit overboard claiming the Belmont could be cancelled? I guess, but facts are facts and they are running out of money which everyone knew all along.

Is there waste at NYRA? Most likely yes, similar to most large corporate entities.

Is there criminal activity? Fraud?

I have no freakin idea and neither do any of you, but I suspect not because there is plenty of oversight currently in place as part of the Franchise agreement.

But that is not what this is about.

The Governor loves to call out his opponents in the media, helps his image with prospective voters, but he obviously has thin skin when it comes to someone turning the tables on him.

That is what this is about.

So all of those making bold proclamations of massive fraud allegedly due to concern for "taxpayer dollars" take him up on his offer, of just post your evidence right here.

Anonymous said...

I blog on here now and again. I am not anti NYRA, but I do agree with some of the sentiment expressed here that NYRA has put its foot in its mouth on this issue. I dont know if it is Charlie's fault or someone else within the NYRA structure, but the decision is identified with Charlie and I assume this is why he is under attack.

The issue is not that bloggers come forward to defend their sentiments, it is why is NYRA refusing to be audited by the one State Agency (Comptroller's office) which picked up the $50 million fraud in 2007. To my knowledge NYRA at this time was being monitored by Getnick, the Racing & Wagering Board and probably a slew of other agencies, none of which picked up this fraud.

NYRA's refusal to cooperate with Tom Di Napoli's auditors smacks of arrogance at best and at worst corruption as one earlier blogger put it. I too doubt there is corruption but NYRA's attitude feeds fuel to the fire of the criticism of NYRA.

Of course this all disappears if NYRA would do the right thing and open its books to Tom Di Napoli.

Anonymous said...

New York Post
Wed., Dec. 30, 2009, 7:00 AM home

NYRA's dubious track record

Last Updated: 7:00 AM, December 30, 2009

Posted: 12:38 AM, December 30, 2009

The New York Racing Association says it needs a $30 million bailout -- or it may have to scrub next year's Belmont Stakes.

Maybe it does.

But if the scandal-scarred racetrack operator wants any credibility in the matter, it would do well to open its books to responsible oversight.

Instead, NYRA is fighting document subpoenas issued yesterday by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli -- asserting that DiNapoli has no oversight authority in its affairs.

That's Triple-Crown nonsense, of course.

Just last year, the association got a $105 million state handout and a 25-year franchise extension, all for agreeing to drop a dubious land claim at Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga race courses.

The extension was probably a mistake on Albany's part -- NYRA has rarely exhibited good faith in its dealings with the state -- but that's the relevant document now.

And NYRA consented to oversight from the comptroller's office in that agreement. Which makes perfect sense: Keeping tabs on taxpayer dough is DiNapoli's job.

Besides, NYRA is the last outfit in New York to deserve the benefit of the doubt.

It was the subject of a federal indictment in 2003, and subsequent investigations have uncovered the systematic hiding of profits, no-bid contracts and excessive executive junkets.

Who knows what DiNapoli might find this time?

As to NYRA's claims of hardship: Well, it might have a case. The corporation had been expecting a share of the revenue to be gained by installing video slot machines at Aqueduct -- a project that's been tied up in Albany for years.

Moreover, thoroughbred racing in New York -- once a major contributor to the state economy -- is a shadow of its former self.

The idea that it would ever recover from a cancellation of the Belmont Stakes is fanciful beyond belief -- almost as bizarre, in fact, as the notion that NYRA is leveling such a threat in the first place.

Unclear is whether the folks who run things -- accustomed for decades to living off the fat of the land -- can adjust to the new reality.

DiNapoli, it appears, aims to find out.

Good for him.

Anonymous said...

DiNapoli wants to audit NYRA. NYRA is putting up a fight.

There is a question about whether or not DiNapoli has the authority to audit NYRA. NYRA cites a Court of Appeals case from last summer that said the state legislature did not have the authority to order the comptroller to audit a not-for-profit organization. In that case, it was charter schools. But the ruling never said that the comptroller, acting by himself, could not audit the organization, especially if that organization is the recipient of state funding.

Anonymous said...

NYRA's horse hockey: Racing association must not extort new bailout from taxpayers


Wednesday, December 30th 2009.

The folks who run the Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga horse tracks must take New York taxpayers for a bunch of chumps.

Claiming to be broke, the New York Racing Association wants to shake down taxpayers for a second huge bailout in two years.

Either the state forks over $30 million by June, President Charles Hayward recently told the Daily News, or NYRA will cancel the Belmont Stakes, third leg of the Triple Crown.

Meanwhile, these same arm-twisters are brazenly stonewalling an audit by Controller Tom DiNapoli - who's understandably curious about what happened to the $105 million NYRA glommed from the state Treasury last year.

Gov. Paterson and the Legislature cannot succumb to such extortion tactics. They should tell NYRA to get lost. If that means the end of the Belmont Stakes, a 105-year tradition, so be it.

For the state to waste even more tax dollars propping up this dying enterprise would be a travesty - a classic case of a compulsive gambler chasing losses.

NYRA's claim to be immune from state scrutiny under some court decision is pure horse manure. Chairman Steven Duncker signed a contract just last year clearly stating that the controller and other state officials "shall have access" to NYRA's financial records. Evidently, Duncker is not a man of his word.

Legalities aside, though, NYRA is morally bound to open its books - having long since morphed from a private outfit to a ward of the state and leech on the public fisc.

Until NYRA cooperates with DiNapoli - and fully accounts for every dime of government money already received - it should forfeit all rights under last year's deal, including its cut of future revenues from video slots to be installed at Aqueduct.

As for any further handouts, Paterson and the Legislature should tell the horsy set to forget about it. Albany's cash window is closed.

Read more:

Anonymous said...

It is astonishing how much bad press this dumb decision by NYRA has generated.

Anonymous said...

Today, state Sen. John Bonacic (R,I,C-Mt. Hope), the ranking GOP member of the Committee on Racing, Wagering & Gaming, said in a news release that he wants the committee to discuss placing NYRA into receivership, an action that he believes could result in the association being managed by a state agent -- such as DiNapoli.

"When an entity holds a public license as NYRA does, they also hold a public trust," Bonacic said. " ... NYRA's arrogant refusal to be transparent, when combined with their threat to cancel the Belmont, makes clear that they are disregarding their public trust."

Anonymous said...

NYRA seeks truce with state Comptroller

Sources say association will reverse earlier decision to stonewall DiNapoli
By JAMES M. ODATO, Capitol bureau
Last updated: 12:09 p.m., Wednesday, December 30, 2009

ALBANY -- The New York Racing Association has reversed its initial refusal to cooperate with Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and will provide financial data to auditors, according to two officials familiar with NYRA's change of heart.

NYRA is expected to announce the decision today, even as its lawyer pushes DiNapoli to drop subpoenas served Monday to the association. A DiNapoli spokeswoman could not confirm the detente. But NYRA's lawyer, John J. Henry, wrote to DiNapoli that instead of subpoenas, the Comptroller should try to "avoid unnecessary judicial intervention."

As an alternative to litigation, DiNapoli has been seeking access to NYRA's books on or before Jan. 12.

DiNapoli spokeswoman Jennifer Freeman said NYRA is off-base by saying the Comptroller has no right to audit a not-for-profit corporation. "Our office has clear audit authority," she said today. "NYRA signed a franchise agreement that lays out our audit authority, which is also clear in the state Constitution and in state law. Comptroller DiNapoli believes taxpayers have a right to know what's going on at NYRA. We're going to audit NYRA and find out."

Officials familiar with talks over the past two days said NYRA is easing its stance, and will at least provide documentation sought in the subpoenas, if not even greater openness.

NYRA President Charles Hayward, Chairman Steve Duncker and Chief Counsel Patrick Kehoe did not respond to calls or e-mails this morning.

The blowup with DiNapoli comes as Hayward has publicly stated several times in recent weeks that NYRA is running out of money and will need the state to keep its commitment to provide operating funds in lieu of revenues from a proposed racino at Aqueduct race track.

NYRA runs Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga tracks under a franchise agreement with the state.

Henry, NYRA's attorney, wrote to DiNapoli on Tuesday, noting that NYRA had notified the Comptroller in October that auditors had no authority to audit NYRA since it is not a state agency or a subdivision of one. He noted that NYRA never received a response to its October notice. DiNapoli, Henry wrote, should drop the subpoenas, which would require a vast amount of records; the demand, the lawyer noted, is "overbroad and unduly burdensome."

Also today, state Sen. John Bonacic (R,I,C-Mt. Hope), the ranking GOP member of the Committee on Racing, Wagering & Gaming, said in a news release that he wants the committee to discuss placing NYRA into receivership, an action that he believes could result in the association being managed by a state agent -- such as DiNapoli.

"When an entity holds a public license as NYRA does, they also hold a public trust," Bonacic said. " ... NYRA's arrogant refusal to be transparent, when combined with their threat to cancel the Belmont, makes clear that they are disregarding their public trust."

Anonymous said...

Paul Moran-ESPN.COM

The New York Racing Association, having once emerged from bankruptcy, is again at the verge of insolvency. Why? After eight years of astounding incompetence by what is arguably the nation's most corrupt and dysfunctional state government, the Empire State's solons remain incapable of or unwilling to choose one from among several applicants, organizations that would finance and operate a video lottery terminal casino at Aqueduct that has the potential for enormous profit.

Governor David Paterson, whose approval ratings are behind Swine Flu's, and state legislative leaders, a term employed here in the most obtuse sense, remain at unexplained gridlock over which of five bidding groups will operate the 4,500-maching Aqueduct VLT casino, first approved in 2001. The state, itself insolvent and facing unprecedented deficits, has turned its back on an estimated $400 million a year. NYRA, horsemen and breeders are seeing at least $60 million a year unrealized because of the unconscionable delay. Allowing for a year to construct, equip and staff the project, the state's taxpayers have seen about $3.2 billion and the racing industry roughly $480 million lost to incompetent government.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the NYRA bashing on this blog. Same old crap- NYRA is the whipping boy as the Albany mob, the know-nothings, and the media know-nothings drag the NYRA-Charlie Hayward red herring across their incompetent, corrupt tracks. Classic diversionary tactic, but it just doesn't wash. NYRA told the Albany crowd in 2006-07 that the till was nearly empty and that the Big A slots better be up and running NLT 2009 or the well would be bone dry. Well, guess what??? It is!!! And we told ya so!!! Pick the bloody slots operator, will ya???!!! /S/greenmtnpunter

Anonymous said...

So NYRA is running out of money, yet again! Have any of the 26 directors or members of one of the state agencies ever bothered to ask why?

Think six figure purses unsupported by handle and signal fees are a cause? Or, NYRA's officers with six figure salaries and nonpareil benefits a reason?

NYRA for years has never attempted to operate profitably - they have taken their status as a non-profit entity quite seriously, blowing serious money on extravagant purses to maintain the image that they provide the best racing as they drown in red ink.

I remember Charles Hayward saying several years ago that once slot revenue is flowing, the purses will be increased from $1.25 million to $2.5 million; and recently I read where it is planned to spend $100 million to renovate Saratoga - arrogance personified.

Charles Hayward said the other day that NYRA for 2009 will be in the red about $1 mil. I think he left off a zero.

Isn't the real question not when the state will award the contract to build a slot palace, but why should NYRA even be getting 16% of slot revenue?

Anonymous said...

The Saratogian - extract

Reports circulated Wednesday that NYRA might be about to reverse course. However, President and CEO Charles Hayward said, "NYRA will not be making any announcement today (Wednesday)."

Freeman said NYRA had not reached out to DiNapoli’s office by late Wednesday afternoon.

"The answer continues to be no," she said. "There has been no change."

Anonymous said...

It looks like the decision to stonewall The Comptroller's office was Charlie's, according to Jim Odato's article in the Times Union:

NYRA officials declined requests for interviews, and the secretary for President Charles Hayward said the executive staff would not discuss the decision although an announcement later this week is possible.

One person told of NYRA's decision said the not-for-profit corporation's top officers struggled with what to do after Hayward refused to allow auditors in this fall and turned them down again more recently, resulting in DiNapoli issuing subpoenas Monday to Hayward seeking financial data. The determination was to honor the demand for information, the source said, which would result in turning over voluminous documents involving 2008 and 2009 expenditures, revenues and fees.

Anonymous said...

Albany titans will want Charlie's head. He has managed to piss off just about everyone on whom NYRA will depend on to survive.

Anonymous said...

Go back and see what NYRA said a couple of years ago when the last transfusion was received. Their cash flow projections clearly showed they could get by until 2008 or 9 when the Aqueduct slot revenues would kick in. The NY racing business model, with the current purse structure, did not support racing beyond 2009 without VLT revenue from Aqueduct. This should be no surprise to anyone who has followed this slow moving train wreck.

Charlie Hayward is merely telling Albany "We told ya so", and now the Albany pols are playing true to form by trying to make NYRA look like the bad guys. I must say that NYRA's PR in all of this has been woefully lacking since they have failed to get their side of their story out. /S/greenmtnpunter

Anonymous said...

Charlie has been consistent when he said NYRA will run out of money. Where he, with I assume the support of the Board of Trustees, is wrong is on stonewalling the Comptrollers office and blocking their audit of NYRA's books based on a spurious argument as a result a recent court decision applying to Charter Schools. It looks like NYRA has something to hide. If it doesn't, then this has been one of the dumbest decisions coming out of NYRA for years.

Anonymous said...

Well, perhaps NYRA's plea and the resulting media uproar has worked since the Gov announced today he will select a winner if the three parties do not agree in a couple of weeks, per NY Post.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:29, purses are a function of handle, they do not come from NYRA's operating budget but rater are a set legal percentage of the handle.

If I am sure of one thing in this entire debate, it is that NYRA is NOT squandering their own money on purses.

Anonymous said...

in reply to 7.46pm,
Well, perhaps NYRA's plea and the resulting media uproar has worked since the Gov announced today he will select a winner if the three parties do not agree in a couple of weeks, per NY Post.

- Gov' said approx' 3 weeks ago, he would name his own preferred bidder over Christmas, he was also along with NYRA, pro-SL Green at te time.

But very recently, and along with NYRA's lack of PR & public distain with state, it seems PENN, has jumped in & made him a very enticing 'after the bell', financial incentive.


Anonymous said...

in reply to 7.46pm,
Well, perhaps NYRA's plea and the resulting media uproar has worked since the Gov announced today he will select a winner if the three parties do not agree in a couple of weeks, per NY Post.

- Gov' said approx' 3 weeks ago, he would name his own preferred bidder over Christmas, to hurry things along.
Gov' was also along with NYRA, pro-SL Green at the time.

But very recently and along with NYRA's lack of PR & public distain with state, PENN, has jumped in & made 'his agenda', a very enticing 'after the bell', financial incentive.


Anonymous said...

Charlie announced that NYRA's choice for Aqueduct is SL Green. If Governor Paterson picks SL Green, does this mean that the Governor is sending a signal to Tom DiNapoli to pull off his attack dogs on NYRA?

Anonymous said...

NYRA's choice the first time around was MGM and this got nowhere.

NYRA's choice the second time around was Delaware North which ended in tears and cost us all an absolute fortune. I actually believe that Delaware North should not have been allowed to re-bid again, but were allowed to do so because of their prominence upstate.

NYRA's clear choice this time around is SL Green. Will The Governor give NYRA its choice again? Somehow this time I very much doubt it.

Anonymous said...

There is something in Charlie's Hayward's words that I do not understand and maybe someone on here can clarify for me.

Charlie has stated that NYRA will probably break even but that the $30 million given by the State for working capital will be exhausted before the Belmont Stakes.

I am no accountant but if NYRA is breaking even, this $30 million must have or is being used for a non operating expense. This is either for capital expenditure or to increase purses. Could there be any other non-operating expense at NYRA? Can anyone shed a light here?

Maybe we will only find this out from Di Napoli's auditors.

Anonymous said...

The inconsistancy may be as simple as cash flow vs. profit and loss statement.

It is very easy for a company to break even from a P&L perspective while bleeding cash.

Some of the money received was clearly used to pay existing debt and accounts payable.

The money from NYCOTB has clearly been counted as revenue but has not been received.

And as you stated there have been capital improvements made, I remember a press release about the Spa. These are not expensed.

There are many variables, but I prefer to get paid for my work so will stop with those three examples.

Anonymous said...

And again, everyone needs to remember that purses are set by statute and are kept(supposed to be) in a restricted bank escrow account not to be touched for operating expenses.

Purse levels should have nothing to do with NYRA's P&L, they are increased or decreased depending on handle.

I agree the horsemen and state should be and most likely are monitoring/auditing this money.

NYRA has zero incentive to siphon money from its operations into purses, in fact the opposite is true and has been done in the past.

Anonymous said...

Why did former Governor Eliot Spitzer do the about face on the NYRA group anyhow?

Remember, he said in late 2006 before he took office that if “the NYRA didn’t understand that they are just a pawn of the state that they should be thrown out on their ear,” to in mid 2007 that “the NYRA are the only ones with knowledge of NY racing and are the obvious choice to continue.”

Nowhere have I ever read a reasonable explanation of Eliot Spitzer’s reversal on the NYRA.

Just makes you wonder?

Anonymous said...

Anon 607, I suspect it was the land claim, Spitzer, for all his success as a DA, had a tendency to shoot from the mouth before performing due diligence.