– Governor Andrew Cuomo’s sudden support of an expansion of casino gambling took some by surprise. Now there are questions about whether he was influenced by hefty contributions to the Committee to Save New York, a Cuomo advocacy group. The group does not have to reveal its donors, as it’s a 501(c)(4), an organization that’s supposed to have a social welfare, not political purpose. The New York Times reported this group received $2.4 million in contributions from gambling interests.
The governor adamantly denies he was influenced by the group or its money. That’s the thing about American politics – proving a quid pro quo is incredibly difficult. Was it a coincidence that State Senator Mike Nozzolio championed a soccer stadium while he was getting big donations from the soccer team? Was it a coincidence big GOP donors were hired as contractors for the Renaissance Square project? Was there a reason backers of big projects continually hired a former staff member of Assemblyman David Gantt as a lobbyist, a situation that came to be known as the “Gantt tax?”
We’ll never know.
And we may never know about Cuomo and the gambling interests. Two editorials call for transparency. The New York Times writes:
New Yorkers can and should have a serious debate about expanded gambling — its potential economic value to the state and its potential social costs. But there should be no debate about New Yorkers’ need to know who is contributing millions to promote what political issues.
None of this is inherently corrupt.
But the big bucks being spent — and the infinitely bigger bucks at stake — underscore the dangers of potential corruption implicit in legalized gambling…
Moreover, the infusion of gambling dollars to CSNY — and its uncomfortably close proximity to Cuomo’s newfound enthusiasm for expanded gambling — can only undermine public confidence in the governor himself. Fairly or otherwise.
– That didn’t take long. The former Chief of Staff under Jean-Claude Brizard is now head of the North Syracuse district, where teachers want her fired. Teachers agreed to a pay freeze and then Kim Dyce-Faucette turned around and offered administrators a raise.
– In Syracuse, they call it the “Destiny deadline dance.” Robert Congel keeps running up against deadlines to adhere to his PILOT agreement at the Carousel Mall, now known as Destiny USA. Irondequoit is having much the same experience with Congel’s son, Scott.
– This is a long read, but worth it if you’re interested in the future of the newspaper industry. Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian, wrote a piece about why paywalls are terrible. What he said is getting national attention in journalism circles.
– How cool is this? The flour used in all Dunkin’ Donuts comes from a 200-year-old Churchville mill.