Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Risky business

Gavin Landry, a veritable fixture over at the Saratoga Springs Convention and Tourism Bureau, is making what could easily be termed as a risky career broad jump this week over to the New York Racing Association. Landry, director of the private membership-based nonprofit agency aimed at promoting the Spa City, is expected to announce his leap to NYRA during a media conference at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Tuesday.

In an almost unprecedented move, Landry is rumored to jump into the NYRA hot seat as the organization’s senior vice president after the position was vacated by the parachute-grabbing Bill Nader in March. In an almost equally unprecedented scoop, the Saratogian’s recalcitrant managing editor reported this scoop Friday, besting the other three print bullies in the sandbox of Saratoga’s media.

But back to the important news here, which is Landry’s bizarre career move at a time when NYRA could feasibly be dissolved by year’s end. Landry is the wonderchild of the Convention and Tourism Bureau, a guy whose catch phrase for years has been “to make Saratoga Springs a premier, national, year-round resort destination.”

Indeed, the city is now a year-round destination, with a small exception for the month of February. Whether Landry himself can take credit for this is something that’s debatable. However, the upswing in tourism manifesting in the city under the dozen years he’s manned the bureau are not. In other words, Landry’s cushy job with the bureau was hardly in jeopardy.

Landry did apparently offer to remain active with the bureau until late June –also known as the time when convention season winds down –and pledged to be a part of the search committee for his replacement. Such vague language leaves the door wide enough open that Landry could feasibly squeeze back into his old digs, where NYRA to face the ax.

But Landry’s appointment to the NYRA hot-seat could also be the proverbial power play by the organization is running to regain control of the state’s thoroughbred racing contract. As The Saratogian mentions, he comes from a very racing-oriented family, which does have ties with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, which leans heavily toward supporting Democratic candidates in New York.

Care to guess who gave more than $20,000 funding to this organization’s political action committee between 2003 and 2006? Well, none other than Steve Duncker, NYRA’s chief operating officer and the same man who was at loggerheads with the Pataki administration last year over delays in Aqueduct’s video lottery terminal contract. And do you what party Duncker has a habit of supporting?

Putting Saratoga’s golden boy at the most visible seat in NYRA’s organization is a dynamite move by NYRA and one that could very well be the winning card on the table, given the troubles that seem to swirl around the other bidders. Then again, Landry’s new job could also mean the decision is already made in Albany.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Indeed, the city is now a year-round destination, with a small exception for the month of February."

I guess that's not counting the 7,000 people who come for the Dance Flurry every President's Day Weekend.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And don't count out Chowderfest!

7:54 AM  

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