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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Casinos Not Part of Debate

The topic of casinos was not brought up at last night's gubernatorial debate in Buffalo, and why should it have been, really?  It's not an open question at this stage, and it doesn't matter at this point what three of the four candidates on stage think about whether casinos should go to Orange County or the Catskills or both or neither.  (Even in the unlikely event that one of them wins, the Gaming Commission could easily push through the licenses before the new year if it wanted to.)  And the other candidate would have told us that he's not involved in the process, as non-credible as that claim may be.  So, it was better concentrating on more pressing topics that weren't really addressed in a meaningful manner anyway.

That's because the format of the debate was determined by the Cuomo Administration, and it was obviously structured in a way which perfectly suits an incumbent with a 20+ point lead and a vexing problem with a certain US Attorney:  The inclusion of two minor-party candidates to take up time that could have been better spent pressing the incumbent on the federal investigations into his conduct regarding the Moreland Commission; strict 30-second and one-minute time limits on answers (they even cut off the microphones when any candidate tried to exceed); and no direct interaction permitted between and amongst the candidates.  Not to mention that the thing only lasted one hour, and it's the only scheduled debate.  Thus, Rob Astorino's attacks on the governor could only take up 1/4 of the time, and Cuomo did not have to ever respond to the GOP candidate's direct challenges to Cuomo for him to assure us that neither he nor members of his staff have been subpoenaed in Preet Bharara's investigation.  (Though one might think that if that wasn't the case, Cuomo would have found an opportunity to tell us so.) 

I thought that the whole thing was a complete waste of time.  Which, of course, was exactly what the governor's people intended.  Nice work there.  The questioners didn't help either by asking a dumb question such as whether the candidate intended to serve out four full years.  While that may have been appropriate to ask the governor in the spin room, it was obvious that it set up the candidates to stray way off topic with the extra time after the one word response of 'yes.'  (Though the governor took some time to try and deflect the query altogether.) 

We here at Left at the Gate are not fans of the governor, as you know.  But that doesn't mean we'd even consider a vote for Rob Astorino.  Seems to me that an accomplished, moderate Republican could fare pretty well in a race for governor here; but instead, the GOP has been able to come up with no better challengers to Cuomo than Carl Paladino and this guy, both of whom have conservative views on topics such as abortion rights, guns, immigration, same-sex marriage, and taxes on the wealthy that are out of step with me and the majority of voters in the state....and positions easily portrayed as being extreme (because, in many cases, they are).  That's beside the fact that Cuomo has moved far enough to the center, and facilitated Republican control of the Senate, in a way that effectively preempts a GOP challenge from that point of view, even if they had someone who was actually a competent candidate. 

It was clear that Astorino was determined to go on a harsh attack from the get-go, and I personally believe that he came off looking bad in doing so.  His attacks came off as being, amongst other things, highly disrespectful.  Yes, disrespectful....I don't care what one thinks of a sitting governor; to say things like "You are looking at a person who may very well be indicted after Election Day comes and goes" while sitting right beside him or her comes off as shrill and pathetically desperate.  (And, in my opinion, probably false.  In my opinion....and not necessarily because I don't think he should be.)  Cuomo, though a bit more forceful than some expected (and whatever you may think about the substance of his responses) easily swatted Astorino away with just an appropriate amount of disdain, never reaching the point of anger that could have raised questions about his temperament. 

(I thought it was curious that, in responding to the questions about the Moreland Commission, Cuomo would twice cite the supporting statement by the commission co-chairperson William Fitzpatrick.  It was precisely that statement, and its coordination with other letters of support, that drew a harsh rebuke from Preet Bharara, and which may very well be its own line of investigation by the feds.)

Astorino made some fair points to be sure, particularly regarding the overwhelmingly negative tone of Cuomo's ads; and his barb that Cuomo is the only one on the stage that has needed to engage a team of defense lawyers.  However, at this point, rather than call for more debates as he is doing, I think Astorino should take what remains of his dignity and go back to Westchester so he can continue forfeiting federal grant money for his county over his stubborn refusal to conform to a 2009 settlement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development with respect to discriminatory zoning laws.

 - Full House Resorts, the lead developer for the proposed casino at Howe Caverns, is up for sale, and the uncertainty about its future can't possibly be good for its chances.  That's too bad for the folks in Schoharie, who seem to be genuinely in favor of a casino there.  Despite its more remote location as compared to the bidders around Albany/Schenectady, I thought the bid was a decent dark horse candidate given the community support, the hardships in the area caused by Hurricane Irene, and Howe Caverns' already being a tourist destination in the area.

 Meanwhile, in Schenectady, the proposed Mohawk Harbor casino has completed its SEQRA process.

 - One more point about the debate: on two occasions, in each his opening and closing remarks, Cuomo spoke glowingly about how we have "Democrats and Republicans working together."  Hardly sounds like a man who is committed to flipping the Senate to Democratic control so that he can actually pass the Women's Equality Act which he claims to be so important to him.  If it really were, he would have been spending less time promoting a fake new party, and more time campaigning for Democratic Senate candidates who could actually make it so.


jk said...

Astorino should have grilled him on pathetic book sales.

Andrew Cuomo's Book Sold A Whopping 945 Hardcovers In Its First Week On Shelves

Unknown said...

Lost And Truly Gone