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Inside Albany’s chaos
There were no sightings of Navy Cmdr. Tom Croci in Albany Wednesday, nor were any expected as the State Legislature is about two weeks from its scheduled end of session. The overall assumption now is that Croci, who gives Republicans the deciding 32nd vote in the State Senate, might never return.
Croci, who represents the 3rd Senate District, announced in May that he would not seek re-election because he has decided to return to active duty. The lack of information even about his whereabouts is bewildering for many in Albany, however, because he had promised to fulfill his responsibilities as a senator and return to Albany for end-of-session votes.
A lobbyist working the Senate hallways told The Point that the talk is that it would take an appeal to President Donald Trump, as commander in chief, to amend Croci’s military orders and get him back to the state Capitol. With Croci AWOL and the sudden family emergency of George Amedore, a GOP senator from Rotterdam, the working GOP majority now only has 30 votes, but it still controls the calendar. That means Democrats can only bring up hostile amendments, and even then they would need Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul presiding over the chamber to succeed.
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins hammered out a bit of a truce Wednesday morning to at least temporarily end the chaos that consumed Tuesday’s session. For Wednesday, both parties will continue to pass many small local bills important to their districts. As of now, there is agreement only to move one major piece of legislation forward: a bill strongly supported by New York’s teacher unions that would decouple scores on standardized tests from being used to evaluate teachers.
“It’s day to day,” said Sen. Todd Kaminsky about whether significant bills for Long Island would come up for a vote. One of those bills would provide state money to ease the pain of school districts and local governments that would lose revenue if the Long Island Power Authority’s assessment cases are settled. Another involves a surcharge on ride-hailing services to raise money for Nassau and Suffolk counties. “Those are not even being discussed,” he said.
Not betting on N.Y.
While New York is caught at the gate on legalized sports betting, other states are off and running.
Delaware scored first, with legal sports wagering beginning at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the state’s three casinos: Delaware Park, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino and Harrington Raceway & Casino. It’s not surprising that the “first state” got out in front, because it has for several years had a sports-book structure in place to accept multigame parlays on the NFL. But now wagers are on offer for Major League Baseball, the NBA and NHL championships, and just about every other professional sport.
New Jersey won’t be far behind, with state regulations expected to pass Thursday and William Hill, a branch of the British betting concern, planning to open up a long-built venue at Monmouth Park in time for an NHL Stanley Cup Finals game that evening. William Hill also will open an outlet at the recently unshuttered Ocean Resort Casino (formerly Revel) Thursday.
And Pennsylvania? The Keystone State might offer a lesson to New York, as it was quick to legalize licensing sports books as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law banning sports gambling in most states a few weeks ago. However, no applications for a license have been submitted yet. The holdup, according to industry players, is the state’s $10 million application fee and a 36 percent tax on operator revenue. New Jersey’s tax will be 8.5 percent on in-person bets and 13 percent on internet wagers, with no licensing fees. Lawmakers are betting that resistance to the high cost of entry in Pennsylvania could melt as football season approaches.
But in New York, with the State Legislature’s political paralysis taking over, the dawn of sports gambling is likely to wait. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has indicated he does not expect legalization this year, even though the Republican-led State Senate is pushing for it.
They say there’s no such thing as a sure thing, but it’s hard to go wrong betting on the dysfunction of New York government.
Suozzi signs off
Last month, The Point reported on a crusade by Richard Siegelman of Plainview to make a change at the Nassau County 9/11 memorial in Eisenhower Park.
The monument lists the names of Nassau County residents who died in the attacks, but had displayed engraved photos of Suozzi, who championed the monument’s creation, and President George W. Bush, who attended its 2004 groundbreaking. Siegelman believed the smiling images on a memorial were inappropriate.
After Siegelman’s letter-writing campaign to Suozzi, County Executive Laura Curran’s team went to work replacing them. On Wednesday, Suozzi’s office — which said it also asked Curran to take down the photos — sent us this confirmation that Siegelman succeeded.