State Senator Frank Padavan, who is as opposed to legal gambling as any person can be, issued another knock against Republican Governor George Pataki’s current proposals to increase state sanctioned gambling.
The Bellerose lawmaker said if the new proposals are enacted, with the prospect of bringing in another $13 billion in revenue, "the state will be the biggest purveyor of gambling going" with $48 billion wagered annually at New York state gambling venues.
"The government of the state of New York will be the envy of every casino operator in Vegas," he declared. "That’s really something to be proud of," he added sarcastically.
Under the currently authorized gambling setup, Padavan noted, $35.29 billion is expected to be wagered annually in this state when video lottery terminals, or electronic slot machines, come fully on line. They are already operating at the Saratoga Racetrack upstate and are to be installed at the Aqueduct Racetrack flea market in Ozone Park.
Also included in the $35 billion take are lottery games, parimutuel wagering and charitable gambling.
Padavan said gambling proponents will wax enthusiastic about the increases of revenue that the state will realize if other forms of gambling are brought on line.
"What they won’t tell you is that another $13 billion needs to be sucked out of the economy to realize those revenues," he said, accounting for the next expansion of gambling that will take the state to the $48 billion revenue figure he cited earlier.
"That’s money that could be spent on goods and services throughout our state that won’t be, because people are chasing dreams and destroying their lives," he declared.
The numbers compiled by Padavan are based on revenue projections from the governor’s Executive Budget Proposal, reports by the state senate Finance Committee and extrapolations based on prize payout percentages.
Backing up his strong anti-gambling stance, Padavan said the New York
State Council on Problem Gambling reports that "7.3 percent of New Yorkers have a compulsive gambling problem that’s approximately 1.4 million people, and they’re going to spend the bulk of this additional $13 billion. They can’t afford it."
MAYOR DEFENDS REBATE AGAINST COUNCIL BARBS: Reacting to City Council Speaker Gifford Miller’s tax cut proposal, Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended his $400 rebate plan as a better proposal and dismissed Miller’s plan.
Speaking on his weekly radio program, the mayor stated: "My plan gives every homeowner an equal benefit: $400. The council plan offers millions to wealthy property owners and crumbs to everyone else."
He said private homeowners would receive only about $53 each under Miller’s plan while Con Edison and other corporations and utilities would save millions.
In a daily newspaper, a spokesman for Miller was quoted: "While our plan gives $300 million in permanent tax cuts to seniors, working families, homeowners, renters and businesses alike, the mayor would write a one-time check to only 20 percent of New York’s property tax payers."
Adding his support for Miller’s plan, Councilmember David Weprin (D–Hollis), Finance Committee chair, asked, "Don’t you think it’s not very good tax policy to give a rebate to only 30 percent of those eligible?"
The mayor’s plan would cost $250 million; Miller’s would cost $297 million.
SURPRISE FOR ONORATO: State Senator George Onorato, a Democrat, recently received a letter from Katherine Harris, a Republican lawmaker from Florida.
As Florida Secretary of State four years ago, Harris presided over the recount in the Bush–Gore presidential election which ultimately resulted in President George W. Bush being declared the winner of the controversial race.
Onorato (D–Astoria) who has never met Harris, was surprised, first because he received a letter from her, even further because of the reason for Harris’ letter—to thank him for a contribution to her campaign for congress this year. He knew something was amiss when the letter was addressed to "Jorge" Onorato.
The veteran lawmaker responded, "As a Democratic New York State Senator, I must assure you that your contributor records are in error and that you have never received any campaign support from me. Given your tremendous expertise in this particular area, you may wish to initiate a ‘recount’ of your campaign contributors."
BLOOMY, RUDY RESCUE MISSION: When President George W. Bush got some flack last week for running television adds to aid his presidential re-election campaign, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani came to his aid.
Democrats, a firefighters’ union, and some September 11 victims’ family members charged the ads were a brazen attempt by the president to profit politically from them. One September 11 widow charged, "3,000 people were murdered on President Bush’s watch."
However, Giuliani, who earned the respect of millions of people for leading the response to the infamous attacks that day, said he had no problem with the ads. The ex-mayor, a Republican who has endorsed Bush for re-election, stated:
"September 11 is the defining event of our times, and the president’s leadership on that day is central to his record and his continued leadership is critical to our ultimate success against world terrorism."
Bloomberg also said he found nothing objectionable about the commercials.
"I don’t have a problem if people remind the country and the world about the sacrifices that the New York City Fire Department and Police Department and civilians made," the mayor said.
GREEN QUITS MAYOR’S RACE: Former Public Advocate Mark Green, who was unexpectedly defeated by Bloomberg in the 2001 mayoral election, said last week that he will not be a candidate in next year’s race.
Green, who also served previously in congress, said he has decided instead to seek the state Attorney General’s office if incumbent AG Eliot Spitzer does not run for re-election.
With Green out of the mayoral picture, it leaves as possible Democratic candidates City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, city Comptroller William Thompson, Congressmember Anthony Weiner, former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer and Councilmember Charles Barron.
The only Republican eyeing the race is former Councilmember Tom Ognibene of Middle Village.
MALONEY HONOREE: The Ridgewood Democratic Club, headed by Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D), will honor Congressmember Carolyn Maloney at its annual dinner–dance on June 19 at Niederstein’s Restaurant in Middle Village.
The century-old club’s event will also honor Charles Ober, a local civic leader, as Man of the Year and will present its Community Service Award to Wyckoff Heights Hospital. Tickets are $75 per person.
Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan), whose district includes parts of Western Queens, has been an outspoken advocate of women’s rights and funding for federal projects in New York City.
PADAVAN TATTOO BAN: State Senator Frank Padavan’s bill requiring a parent’s consent for the piercing and branding of minors, was passed by the senate last week. It also prohibits the piercing, tattooing and branding of those under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
This is the fourth time the bill has passed the senate, but although most medical procedures require parental consent or notification, the assembly has refused to pass it. Assemblymember Anthony Seminerio (D–Ozone Park) is the sponsor.
Padavan (R–C, Bellerose) said the bill is needed now more than ever. "With the growing popularity of different types of piercings, infections will only become more commonplace."