GOP voices on racing and redistricting
Following this week's failure by the state Senate to ensure the solvency of the New York City Off Track Betting, the Senate Republicans announced today the creation of a Task Force on the Revitalization of the Racing Industry in New York.
Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, said this task force is focused on ensuring the long-term stability of the racing industry in New York, instead of just debating short-term solutions.
"The task force will gather input from everyone involved with and impacted by racing in New York," said Skelos.
To that end, local Senators Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga, and Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, will both be members of the task force.
McDonald broke ranks with his party on Tuesday, when he was one of two Republicans in the Senate to vote in favor of a measure proposed by Gov. David Paterson that would keep NYC OTB from closing. Farley, who had supported the measure in committee, was conspicuously absent from the floor vote.
The task force will convene several public hearings to examine all aspects of New York's racing industry, including possible reforms to the payment structure of OTB and NYRA and the regulation of out-of state wagering.
A spokesman for the Senate Democratic Conference characterized the task force as a gimmick aimed at erasing the memory of Senate Republicans jeopardizing 17,000 racing industry jobs.
"The task force isn't going to help any of the [NYC OTB] employees who lost their jobs," said the spokesman.
The task force will report recommendation to the Senate Racing and Wagering Committee, which is likely to be run by the Republicans in the next legislative session.
Tedisco on redistricting
As the New York State Legislature makes no move toward nonpartisan redistricting in December, a proposal from Senator Martin Dilan, D-Brooklyn, received mild praise from Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, who has been a local champion of the issue.
Regarding the Dilan proposal, which was introduced last week and establishes a nine-person commission to oversee the drawing of Assembly, Senate and Congressional lines, Tedisco said he was supportive of any measure that moved the issue closer toward a nonpartisan solution.
He was hesitant to fully embrace the commission designed by Dilan, because it would be composed of members appointed by the Legislature. Tedisco said this was a flawed idea because it ensured the appointees would be chosen by the same people who continue to support gerrymandering and a broken system.
Tedisco advocated a redistricting procedure that would remove power from the leader, and said that a vote needs to be held before the next session so that a constitutional amendment can be presented to New Yorkers soon.
With a couple of weeks left, Tedisco is trying to be optimistic, but acknowledged that action on this issue is unlikely before January.
"It looks like politics as usual," he said.
Reach Gazette reporter David Lombardo at 395-3134 or firstname.lastname@example.org.