Numbers Back Cuomo On Casino Gambling Operations
Backing up Governor Andrew Cuomo’s contention that New York state would benefit from full-fledged casino gambling operations, the state raked in $5.4 billion in 2010, more than its neighboring rivals and ranking third behind longtime gaming states like Nevada/Las Vegas and California.
And that’s without any help from newkid on-the block Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct in Ozone Park, which spun its first wheel last October.
Citing earnings statistics from the Daily News, Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder (D–Rockaway) said that “Resorts World at Aqueduct topped the nation in slot machine revenue for the month of May, generating $57.5 million.”
Goldfeder said that was $7 million more than Foxwoods Resort Casino and $2 million more than Mohegan Sun Casino, both in Connecticut.
“These numbers alone should be enough to prove that enhanced gaming at Resorts World at Aqueduct racetrack will only benefit Queens and all of New York state,” Goldfeder noted.
According to Casino City Press, in its newly released North American Gaming Almanac, the state’s eight casinos and other gambling operations’ $5.4 billion placed it third behind Nevada, the earner in 2010 with $10.5 billion and California ($9.7 billion). Meanwhile, our state’s major rival, New Jersey, finished fourth with $4.4 billion in 2010, which was $2 billion less than the previous year.
Goldfeder said the $5.4 billion earned by NYS included $1.05 billion from Native American run casinos in the state, $2.8 billion from the lottery and $1.08 billion from slots parlors at racetracks. The lawmaker also noted that while Cuomo’s plan to build the largest convention center in the world at Aqueduct has been put aside for now, the project still has great potential to further revitalize Queens by creating more jobs for locals and other residents.
Meanwhile, it was reported in a New York Post story that the Resorts World (racino) returns more in payouts (97 percent) to winners than any other racino in the state, which give back about 91 or 92 percent, according to racino financial reports.
Sadly, the only bad news concerning the Aqueduct casino recently was the first robbery reported there late last month. According to police the unarmed robber presented a note to a second-floor clerk demanding cash, got it and fled. Police would not report how much was taken, and neither would a racino spokesperson.
Several days later, state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach), whose district includes Aqueduct, issued a statement in which he said he had serious concerns regarding the procedures that are in place which would allow an individual to take a bag of money from the cashier window down to the street level, out of the casino, across the parking lot, and escape to the street.
Addabbo, who has been a major supporter of the racino, said he was interested in possible changes in the method of notifying the police in a timely manner and the practice of monitoring a situation in progress.
Addabbo also said he was thankful that there were no injuries reported during the incident.
LIU LOSES, WINS: City Comptroller John Liu was notified last week that the city Environmental Control Board had upheld a decision ordering Liu to pay $527,400 in fines resulting from his 2009 election which placed him in his present position. The fines resulted when his campaign workers posted more than 7,000 campaign posters on city property, which is illegal.
Liu has not indicated whether he will seek to have the ECB ruling set aside. Presently, he reportedly has about $1.5 million in his treasury for next year’s mayoral election, so paying the fines assessed against him will create a major problem for him. Also figuring in the equation is that if he uses the 2013 campaign funds, he will not be eligible for the six to one matching funds the city Campaign Finance Board would ordinarily give him. Adding to his woes, the federal government is conducting an investigation about alleged irregularities about his campaign funding operations.
Also last week, Liu was on the right side of a court decision that involved a suit brought by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who disagreed with salaries Liu had set for certain city workers. The mayor charged they were too high, but the court disagreed.
QUEENS LAWMAKERS PUSH FOR CO-OP TAX RELIEF: State Senator Tony Avella (D–Bayside) and Assemblymember David Weprin (D–Little Neck) and Phillip Goldfeder (D–Rockaway) were out on the front lines in torrid heat last week along with co-op and condo owners trying to get continued tax abatements.
The situation was created when the state legislature was unable to get a continuation of a sorely needed abatement when the New York City Tax Abatement Program expired on June 30. That program had given a 17.5 percent abatement on property taxes, which is higher in Queens than in some other areas.
Goldfeder appeared to be the most hopeful that eventually the abatement would be passed again, possibly at a higher rate. He said in a prepared statement that according to the plan being discussed, “Coop owners whose unit is their primary residence, will see their abatement jump from 17.5 percent to 25 percent this year and over 28 percent in three years, which will result in a substantial reduction in maintenance costs.”
Goldfeder prefaced that statement saying that co-op owners “should not worry that they will see an increase in their taxes in the near future”. He explained that Mayor Bloomberg’s office had indicated “that they will administratively continue the current tax abatement until the state legislature reconvenes later this year to pass a new plan, which provides even more relief…”
Weprin, interviewed while accompanying demonstrators in Albany, said he was confident a deal would eventually go through and actually increase the abatement, repeating much of what Goldfeder has said.
Avella said at a City Hall press conference that co-op and condo owners should get tax relief, while applauding reductions for small homeowners.
“They should all get the biggest tax breaks,” he was quoted. Otherwise we lose the middle class in the city. I’d rather have more of a burden on commercial properties.”
He also called for an increase in co-op and condo abatements from 17.5 percent to 25 percent.
SIMOTAS BILL REFORMING WORKERS’ COMP PASSES AGAIN: The Pharmacy Choice Bill, introduced by Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (D–Astoria) and closing a flaw in the state’s Workers’ Compensation program, has passed the Assembly for the second year in succession.
Simotas said the bill would “restore the ability of a claimant in a workers’ compensation case to choose a pharmacy of his or her choice to provide the necessary medications for treatment if the pharmacy adheres to the published drug prices.
Presently, the law contains a pharmaceutical fee schedule which is intended to save the state money, but also limited the ability of the injured worker to choose his or her pharmacy.
“The legislation’s passage in the Assembly brings us one step closer to secure a victory for consumer choice, which is essential to reviving our state’s economy and creating a healthier marketplace for all New Yorkers,” Simotas stated.
Simotas has been a vocal advocate for expanded access to affordable prescription medication. As a member of the Preserve Community Pharmacy Access Now!, a national coalition of consumers, businesses and community-based pharmacists, Simotas held a rally last year opposing the merger between pharmacy industry giants Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions Inc., which would give the new entity a near-monopoly and lead to increased drug prices for seniors and working families.
DROMM PLEADS FOR SUPPORT OF DOCUMENTARY: Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D–Jackson Heights) says a local filmmaker, Richard Shpuntoff, is in the process of completing a film called “Julio of Jackson Heights”, after whom a street sign at 78th Street and 37th Avenue has been named.
“But too few people know why we put that street sign there, who Julio was, and how those who loved him fought to turn their loss into a great political victory for all of us.”
Now Shpuntoff’s film “will preserve [Julio] Rivera’s history forever”, says Dromm, “for future generations”. The film, Dromm says, “Chronicles how the gaybashing murder of Julio Rivera—which took place 22 years ago to this day, July 2, 1990—became the spark that ignited our LGBT movement in Queens.”
Dromm, who’s showing a three-minute trailer of the film, is seeking support for it “to keep our Queens LGBT history alive and present”.
TURNER: ‘NATIONAL SECURITY LEAKS UNACCEPTABLE’: Congressmember Bob Turner (R–CQueens/ Brooklyn) has joined with Senate members calling on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to assign a special prosecutor to investigate national security information.
Toward that end, Turner has issued the following statement:
“President Obama can no longer continue to stand in front of the American public and tell them that there is not a problem with leaks in his administration. The slew of critical and sensitive national security information revealed to the public has compromised our country’s security and credibility.
“I agree with the Senators who wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder today stating his investigation into the leaks does not go far enough. Only an outside counsel will be able to ensure that immediate steps will be taken to find the source of these leaks and address the issue in an unbiased manner. The Attorney General should assign a special prosecutor to investigate these leaks as soon as possible.”
ADDABBO ON TEACHER EVALUATION DISCLOSURE INFO: State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach) stated last week, following passage by both houses of the legislature of legislation governing of disclosure of teacher and principals evaluation information to the public and parents, that the new guidelines “strike the correct balance between protecting the confidentiality rights of school teachers and principals while ensuring that parents will be able to gain access to information about the performance of their own children’s educators.”
Addabbo described the new rules as a “reasonable compromise…” He explained:
“Earlier calls to fully disclose teacher evaluations to the public, with the names of all teachers attached, simply went too far. While I support the concept of teacher evaluations, I also recognize that performance judgments may be subjective in some ways and not reflect the day-to-day challenge that teachers face in trying to engage children of diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Every child is different, with varying strengths and weaknesses, and every child’s path to academic success will differ as well.”
Addabbo, a member of the senate’s Education Committee, explained, “Under this legislation, information about teacher and principal, without individual names, will be made widely available to the public to provide a statewide picture of the effectiveness of individual school districts in helping their students to succeed. Parents will be able to request and receive information about the principals and teachers who are directly involved with their own children and will also be provided assistance in understanding the meaning of the evaluations.”
The lawmaker said that final passage of the new standards and signing off by Governor Andrew Cuomo will have met all of the requirements under the federal “Race to the Top” program.
VAN BRAMER APPLAUDS SAVED TEACHER JOBS: Following an arbitrator’s decision to keep open 24 city public schools scheduled to be closed, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D–Sunnyside issued the following statement:
“I am pleased with the recent arbitrtor’s decision which prevents thousands of teachers from losing their jobs. I have long disagreed with the [city] administration’s decision to close 24 schools, including my alma mater Bryant H.S. It is my hope that these schools will remain open and that these hardworking teachers may stay in place as we all come together to improve these schools on behalf of young people who attend them.”
GENNARO PRAISES MAYOR, QUINN ON BUDGET PASSAGE: Following last Monday’s agreement by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on the city’s $68.5 billion expense budget, which took effect July 1, Councilmember James Gennaro (D–Fresh Meadows) hailed it as “a victory for New York families”.
Gennaro noted the spending plan avoids tax increases and also adds $150 million to the mayor’s initially proposed funding for child-care and after-school programs, several of them in Gennaro’s district which were slated to be closed.
Gennaro stated “That under Quinn’s leadership, the council worked together with the administration to develop an improved system that provides an invaluable quality early childhood education for infants and toddlers, giving them the best start possible and benefits that will last a lifetime.”
Gennaro declared, “This good budget agreement will long be remembered as the “children and families’ budget. Day care, early childhood education and after-school programs were prioritized during the budget process due to the leadership of Speaker Quinn, and these programs—most fortunately for middle class families—are stronger than ever despite this very tough budget year. Kudos to Speaker Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg for standing up for New York’s children and families.”
KOSLOWITZ ALSO PRAISES BUDGET: “Despite the many obstacles and challenges that were presented in this years Executive budget,” Councilmember Karen Koslowitz stated, “I was very pleased that we were able to pass a budget that saves many of the city’s vital services, including the 47,000 child-care and afterschool programs that were slated to close. This budget is not only a victory for the working class families that rely on these programs, but to the children that benefit from the safe, inclusive and supportive culture of learning and cognitive development.”
Koslowitz added: “As we slowly head from one of the worst economic crises in recent history, we must continue to fight for our working class and ensure that our families are provided with resources to move forward.”
Koslowitz thanked Quinn and Councilmember Dominic Reccia for their “steadfast leadership and unwavering commitment to our families and children throughout this entire process. She also praised Mayor Michael Bloomberg “for delivering a budget that puts our workers, families and children first”.