Monday, February 18, 2008

Revisionist history

Picture this: Your brash co-worker Joe swings by with a pair of tickets to the grandstand Saratoga Racecourse and invites you to meet up there over the weekend. You know the guy can be a bit of nuisance around the office, but think to yourself, ‘it’s Saratoga, how bad a time can it be?’

As planned, you show up at the front gate around noon. But Joe doesn’t show up until an hour later, by which time you’ve already purchased a ticket and downed a couple of beers. Joe apologizes for showing up late, explaining that he met a hot chick on the way in and “simply had to give her the ticket” he offered to you. ‘No big deal,’ you think, ‘it’s just Joe being Joe.’

Several minutes before the first race, Joe asks to barrow your racing forum to make a few quick picks. You agree, only to watch your co-worker grab the magazine and bolt off into a thick crowd.

“Sorry, dude, I gotta do this on my own,” he yells back. “It’s a superstitious thing.”

‘Not a problem,’ you think, ‘I’ll just bet on the second race.’ But Joe’s disappearing act extends far into the day. They’re leading the horses for the ninth race onto the track when you finally catch sight of him at one of the pari-mutual windows. Quelling your frustration, you ask one last favor of your swarthy officemate.

“Joe, could you just place this trifecta for me,” you plead, noticing there are mere minutes before post time.

“Nah, sorry bro,” he shrugs. “I got too much on my plate right now.”

He then explains how mind-numbingly stupid you are for placing such a bet and assails you for being such a neophyte when it comes to wagering. He’s in the middle of telling you how your IQ is just a few digits below that of a common thoroughbred when you decide to cut your losses and walk away.

On your way out, you miraculously find an empty window and place your bet. Lo and behold, your horses come in and you set off toward downtown with five grand burning a hole in your pocket. You pony up to the bar at Ciro’s for a victory beer, when you hear Joe’s voice piping out from behind.

“Man, oh man, were we lucky to day,” he shouts, signaling for the bartender to bring two beers instead of the one you had ordered. “See, I told you it was a good idea to follow me to the track.”

You sit dumbfounded, as the bartender pours a brewski for Joe and takes it out of your freshly won $100 bill. Meanwhile, Joe has started hitting on an attractive blond you had initially meant to buy a drink. He’s explaining to her how he brought you to the track, taught you how to bet and gave you the trifecta tip that garnered you the wad of cash.

“Yeah, we plan to split the winnings,” he tells the girl.

Sound familiar? Perhaps, if you happen to be one of the thousands of Saratoga Springs voters who received a mailing Saturday from everyone’s favorite state Senate majority leader. Hollywood Joe Bruno decided he was so instrumental in securing a deal to protect New York’s thoroughbred racing franchise over the past three years or so, that he sent a mailer out claiming victory of all things.

“This agreement is a victory for horesmen, fans, the host communities like Saratoga and the thousands of workers who depend on racing,” the mailer bearing Bruno’s smiling mug brashly states.

Thousands of workers? Is the senator referring to the thousands of workers who faced the possibility of unemployment just two weeks earlier thanks to his reckless dickering with the franchise agreement? And is he alluding to “the host communities like Saratoga” that faced the prospect of the first racing blackout since World War II, as a result of his stubborn and dated brand of partisan politics?

Bruno has a lot of gall making any such claim, especially since he was sole reason Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s franchise agreement with the New York Racing Association was stalled for six months. Bruno’s paltry achievements over this time were securing a NYRA oversight board and trimming five years off the original 30-year agreement, so we call all look forward to seeing this battle unfold a bit sooner next time. Good work, Joe. That was really worth spooking everyone unfamiliar with how Bruno and his cronies conduct business.

The most ridiculous part about the whole racing stand-off was that the concessions Bruno gained could have been hammered out last summer, were he not obsessed with the so-called trooper-gate and his Times Union conspiracy theories. After all, it’s a safe assumption he knew Spitzer was going to choose NYRA long before an announcement was ever made. Instead, Bruno sulked like a scolded child to a public that had grown all be disgusted with the franchise volley. Bruno even had the audacity -the unmitigated chutzpah -to propose his own racing deal in the weeks following the governor’s pitch.

There was no mystery about it, Bruno wanted a private organization running the tracks. His rumored front-runner was the embattled collective of Empire Racing, a Pataki Administration front-runner that quickly fell out of favor with Spitzer following an overhaul of all the groups principle interests.

So Bruno played a top-speed high-priced game of chicken with the governor, forcing negotiations into the classic Albany ‘three men in a room’ scenario over a period of time when the Legislature was vastly out of session. Oh, the irony of three power brokers creating an oversight board in a smoky backroom deal. On a side note, it will be interesting to see what other deals were made in at the same time in that same backroom.

Bruno probably would have continued his obstructionist behavior had it not been for NYRA drawing a line in the sand last week. Or perhaps the senator was motivated by a long-time ally Charlie Wait -a power broker in his own right -deciding to bitterly castigate him for the lack of a franchise deal. In other words, Bruno was only motivated to reach an agreement when people genuinely started freaking out.

Now, Bruno is using his typical Hollywood tactics to portray himself as a protectorate of the Spa City’s interests. The hope is that the public is far too fickle to place his name with the sole reason Saratoga’s number-one tourist draw almost went dark. In a way, it’s Bruno’s revisionist history; he’s repainting these bitter events in a vain attempt garner political capital.

Hopefully, the general public isn’t fooled by Bruno’s shtick. It’s painfully obvious the senator was on the losing end of battle he could have ended back in September. And hopefully, people will remember how quick dear Uncle Joe was to throw Saratoga on the high-tension wires of politics instead of doing what was best for the city.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well my dear Horiato the cat is finally out of the bag...not only is your head up your dunnigan your thumb is up there too.Tell me the late night drinking soirees with you and slug finneran are someones fantasy gone real bad...say it ain't so HO!

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe got a bigger slice of VLT revenue for the horsemen and breeders than was in the Spitzer-NYRA memorandum of understanding, which means bigger purses and better nags at Saratoga, and support for horse farms around the county and state.

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just can't wait for someone like the FBI to nail that slimeball and drag him out in cuffs. Look at how they exposed his brother with his lavish office a few years ago and how he left his high paying job so abrutly.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for the swell photo of Uncle Joe with Jim "The World's Shortest Basketball Player" Tedisco and Scott "The World's Smallest Mayor" Johnson.

Joe loves having followers who offer absolutely no threat to outshine his self-professed brilliance. His leadership has turned the New York Republican Party into nothing more than a collection of octagenarians, misfits, and midgets.

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well actually little brother Bobby left because he was fired I believe by Pataki. Still it was a sweet deal until it was exposed, how much more of these things linger in the background and haven't been exposed?

1:22 PM  
Blogger 474now said...

It makes me sick that he sent that mailing out. The money it cost to create that page of fiction - the manpower to mail it - and the fact that it is too stiff to even use to wipe my... yeah, makes me sick.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You got it 100% Right! While Bruno has brought dollars and resources to Saratoga over the past years, he really blew it on the NYRA deal.

He WAS the problem. This could all have been settled months ago. Instead, he played games and did real damage to the upcoming season. There are horse owners who have had their plans for the summer on hold -- due to this game. We will see that in fewer rentals and fewer horses here for training season.

Shame on you, Joe!

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is the same shit this guy has pulled for years. Tom McTygue did the same with us on almost every issue that wasn't at first his idea or did directly benefit him. Big Joe and Little Tom can shove this type of grandstanding up their ass.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thing is, Bruno gave up most of Saratoga Springs to his buddy Hugh Farley (of the Farley brothers), so I don't get Joe's crap in the mail anymore. By the way is Hugh really alive or just some Jasper Nolan prop? I don't even think he's (clueless Hugh) has even stepped foot in the Spa City outside of August.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NYRA mess proves that as a state we are wasting the salaries of all state government leaders except Bruno (BOO), Silver (BOO), and Spitzer (BOO). The others are worthless, they have absolutely no power and follow along like lambs. If we were able to get rid of the rest of the senate and assembly then we'd save some bucks and see the true incompetence of the three left.

5:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that photo looks like jim kinney.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...11:57 AM

"that photo looks like jim kinney.'

I think it may be one of his second cousins that hail from Oklahoma.

5:46 PM  

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