Thank you, Captain Obvious
“Our Saratoga Springs community is developing a sense of anxiety about the lack of a clear plan for 2008 and beyond, especially since thoroughbred racing plays such a central role in our local economy and culture,” Keehn prattled on in one of her trademark wordy letters.
In other news, Keehn is expected to call on the state to continue thoroughbred racing in Saratoga Springs, keep the Northway open up to Exit 15 and to continue with a calendar year that includes 12 months. She is also asking the governor to continue allowing unabated photosynthesis within the confines of the state park.
When it comes to influence in the governor’s office, the Spa City’s mayor in just a step above the janitor that sweeps up around the Capitol and just a step below Spitzer’s dog James. True, she is a Democrat who has ties to both the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Attorney General’s Office, the governor’s old stomping ground. But with Spitzer himself, she might as well be a gnat whistling Dixie.
Of course Spitzer is going to make a decision before next year. He doesn’t really have a choice in the matter other than to dissolve racing altogether. After all, the franchise expires on the last day of December and there’s no real contingency plan in place if a choice is not made before then,
Spitzer has made it quite clear that he’s going to take his time choosing the next franchisee, and rightly so. Like many of the public authorities operating under the Pataki Administration, the New York Racing Association was a model of inefficiency spurred by cronyism and corruption. This culminated with Pataki’s own last-ditch effort to privatize New York’s tracks by literally choking NYRA out of existence.
Had Spitzer made a knee-jerk decision and endorsed the November recommendation of the ad hoc committee on the future of racing –of which Keehn was a member –the city would now be contending with a 2007 track season run by a group that has encountered a great deal of tumult as of late. The one-time front runner is now a long shot in the bid for the franchise, after the Steinbrenner family severed ties with the group; Las Vegas casino developer Steve Wynn then replaced Steve Swindal, the now estranged heir-to-be of the New York Yankee franchise, and thus changed the dynamic of Excelsior’s bid altogether.
Instead, the govenor rightly decided to let the dust settle before making any decision. It’s expected that he’ll continue to hold on a decision until after Labor Day, which also happens to be the last day the racecourse is open this season. This is wise for two reasons. First, because it gives NYRA a chance to show it can pull itself up by the bootstraps and run a successful franchise. And two, because it gives continuity during the season in Saratoga, allowing whatever incarnation awarded the bid to plan for a solid year before taking over the crown jewel of the state’s tracks.
With her choice dashed in this race and facing a tough battled for re-election, Keehn is scrambling to garner an ounce of political mileage from this whole pissing match. By sending this milquetoast letter to the governor, Keehn will keep her fingers crossed that he’ll make a decision before September’s Democratic primary. That way, she’ll be able to list it among her list of accomplishments. So far, these accomplishments include restoring the Saratoga’s VLT revenue –an achievement that had Hollywood Joe Bruno’s name all over it –and establishing a CDTA bus route through the city that no one rides.