Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Gaming the System - Catskill Casinos

Ever wonder why Pataki is working to put five new casinos in the Catskills and one of the things you always here is that he is working with Wisconsin Oneida? I do. You won't get all the answers here but what you will get is another fun bunch of quotes involving real estate developers and lobbyists (And if you were wondering, yes, Ken Bruno has lobbied for the Wisconsin Oneida).

Kudos to Assemblyman James Brennen (D-Brooklyn) for inquiring into the possible criminal background of some of the investors in Empire Resorts, the company that hopes to build these casinos. Enjoy the diversionary response from Empire Resorts CEO Robert Berman:

"Do you want to talk about jobs and the economy and saving Sullivan County, or do you want to play '60 Minutes'?" Berman said.

So, the real estate developers don't want us to ask any questions. No surprise there. How about some insight on how the Wisconsin Oneida are setting up shop in New York. Let's go to Oneida Council member Keller George, testifying as president of the United South and Eastern Tribes Inc:

"In most cases, these efforts are ... funded by shadowy developers who underwrite litigation expenses, lobbyist fees and even the cost of land in exchange for a cut of the profits," he said, adding that many of the casino development teams have people with ties to Pataki.

And now for the money quote from the Times Union:

"Lobbyists and developers were outraged at [Keller George's] message.... It's frankly irresponsible to go through these issues" That was our friend Robert Berman again telling us its irresponsible to ask questions.

That is right. It is irresponsible for our elected officals to question the motives of real estate developers and lobbyists with direct connections to the Pataki administration. How dare we? As a general rule whenever you read the line "lobbyists and developers were outraged" you can be pretty sure that someone was doing something in the best interest of the people of New York.

Make sure to read the whole article.