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The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Wednesday, March 31

(some) City officials were present at the racing rally yesterday, voicemail from Mayor Johnson on union negotiations

I failed to put the names and quotes from city officials that were at yesterday's rally for New York's racing industry into the story that ran today. Yes, some of them were there.

Public Safety Commissioner Richard Wirth, Deputy Commissioner of Accounts Michelle Boxley, and Deputy Mayor Shauna Sutton did stand in solidarity with local stakeholders, as can be seen in the video posted along with the story.

That's Michelle Boxely standing to the right of Albany Mayor Gerry (ey, yo!) Jennings and Richard Wirth is to the left of Supervisor Yepsen in the wide shot.

I asked Wirth why he wouldn't be ready for the track to close, as it would save money, time and aggravation for the department because of the extra police that patrol the area during racing season.
"It can't close," he said, "it's a part of the community."

"Nobody wants to face the reality," Boxley said about the lack of action from Albany. She also said people had approached her recently saying that they never knew that racing in New York was in such dire straits.

Frankly, I didn't know until I started reporting here that horse racing in New York faced such a bizarre battle to stay alive. My family weren't big gamblers, Vegas was never spoken of as a possible vacation spot. I've only been to the flat track once, last summer, and I had a fantastic time basically giving away my hard earned cash. I never would've imagined that the state would just let a cash cow like racing starve to death, which is how I think most New Yorkers who have never placed a bet or heard of "Rachel Alexandra" perceive the situation.

Saratoga Springs Mayor Scott Johnson was not at the rally. According to Mayor Jennings he was, "out of town, someplace we'd all like to be." He didn't mention the locale by name but said that the weather was probably a lot nicer than it was here.

Mayor Johnson did leave me a lenghty voicemail from whatever warm, dry retreat he is staying. I had called him to ask about the status of union contract negotiations with the Saratoga Springs PBA. He said that while he couldn't detail any discussions based on their confidential nature, he did say, "I expect to have something on the upcoming City Council agenda (on April 6) to bring before the council for discussion about the PBA contract." He added that he hoped that discussion would lead to an agreement being reached between the two parties.

Johnson also said he had renewed his call last week to the union presidents (John Catone of the PBA, Kathy Moran of City Hall CSEA & Gary Benecosta of the Department of Public Works CSEA) to make contract concessions on items like health care costs. He said he was working with them to, "reign in the escalating cost of running our city government."

Union presidents have agreed to meet with Johnson on Thursday, April 1. I assume he'll be back from sunny... wherever when that meeting takes place.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been going to the race track for over 50 years and have NEVER seen Wirth, Sutton or Boxley there even once. If you want racing to continue you must SUPPORT it. Standing at a photo op just doesn't get it.

Mayor Jennings is frequently there. At least he knows how important it is to the entire region and is willing to stand with us.

Perhaps Johnson - the poor little rich boy mayor - could send the City attorney, Beanball Scala, done to Albany to "knock" some sense into the heads of the political leadership.

April 1, 2010 at 7:39 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard the group of unions had approached Johnson about health care costs. They all wanted to join the same insurance group. They all wanted to sit down with him and negotiate healthcare costs together, to maximize the city's savings.
Also, when is the Saratogian going to cover the REC center. There are grumblings up at city hall saying this thing might not open until January. That seems to be a pretty relevant story to me.

April 1, 2010 at 8:31 AM 
Anonymous Bruce said...

For months, Johnson Ivins and Franck have been preaching about budget numbers, plans to cut spending,in specific amounts, blah blah blah. Now, we hear that Kaiser Ivins has FOUND x amount of dollars. Have we ever seen a less competent troika of buffoons?? These guys should work for NYRA. You know, Handle millions every year, distribute the money to your favorite people and then the following winter throw up your hands and exclaim "We dont even know if we can open this year! Incredible.

April 10, 2010 at 9:42 PM 

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