The change in state leadership and the resignation of a key negotiator aren’t likely to cripple penning a final agreement for the state racing franchise, officials said Wednesday.
But a racing analyst said recent developments, including new Gov. David Paterson’s need to get a budget passed by the end of the month, will put the New York Racing Association agreement on hold for the moment.
“There will be some delay, but I don’t know how long it’ll be,” said Bennett Liebman, head of the Albany Law School’s Racing and Wagering Law program. “For most people in Albany, the overall budget is much more important.”
NYRA is operating under a temporary extension set to expire April 27, and state officials believe the bankruptcy proceedings will be done and the new board set in place by then. The governor, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver each have appointments to make to the new NYRA board.
The only appointment announced so far is Bruno’s naming of John Hendrickson, racing enthusiast and husband of Marylou Whitney.
The new appointments can’t be made until the bankruptcy plan is approved, NYRA spokesman John Lee said. A hearing originally scheduled for Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan has been rescheduled for April 11.
The final agreement’s execution also depends on agreeing on a firm to run the gaming end of the franchise, Liebman pointed out.
Patrick Foye, one of the major NYRA negotiators for the governor’s office, resigned Sunday as downstate chairman of Empire State Development Corp.
Paterson’s spokesman Morgan Hook said Foye will stay on to ensure a smooth transition with the negotiations, so his departure won’t cripple the agreement.
Also, senior advisers Richard Rifkin and Paul Francis have been involved with the negotiations as well and remain on staff, Hook said. Francis will be the point person now on the agreement.
“I know he was held in high regard by the folks here that worked with him,” Lee said of Foye. “We’re confident that we’ll continue to make progress.”
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Categories: Schenectady County