Stumbling but breathing: How Steve Cohen’s casino team will move forward

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With help from Shawn Ness

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RAMOS ROARS: In a single announcement today, Secretary of State Jessica Ramos dealt a blow to one of America’s richest men as he feverishly tries to expand his footprint in New York City.

But Steve Cohen, billionaire owner of the Mets, isn’t done yet.

The sprawling platoon that makes up Cohen’s team showed no intention of giving up after the progressive state legislature stated her defiance to his plans to build a casino at Citi Field. Anyone who had paid attention to Ramos’ statements in recent months would have suspected that she was heading in this direction and had prepared for it.

“While we respect Senator Ramos’ position, the state never intended for one person to have the ability to single-handedly stop or approve a gaming project,” said Karl Rickett, a spokesman for Cohen’s Metropolitan Park project , in a statement.

“As Metropolitan Park enjoys overwhelming support from elected officials, unions and the local community, we are confident we have the best project in the best location,” Rickett added. “We have more than a year and multiple processes to obtain the required approvals. Our team remains committed to bringing Metropolitan Park to life.”

Rickett also pointed out that gaming is “the only viable economic engine to power the 23,000 jobs, $8 billion in investment and substantial community benefits” – a reference to Ramos’ decides to submit a bill that would clear the land in question for a convention center and hotel, but not for a casino.

Cohen needs the state Legislature to dispose of the land in question — a parking lot designated as a park in Ramos’ district. Without her support, the bid will be more difficult, but not impossible.

His team could intervene support from local businesses and other Queens politicians, and I hope it all becomes so overwhelming that the senator changes his mind – a possibility that Ramos effectively shot down today.

“No elected official should be the sole arbiter of this $8 billion investment, so I strongly urge Governor Hochul and the Senate to explore other avenues to bring the Metropolitan Park proposal to life and ensure that Queens continues to get the money we deserve. ”Queens Borough President Donovan Richards posted on X today.

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Indeed, the Mets owner could try to convince one of Ramos’ Senate colleagues to go around her and support a bill to free up the land. But that move — which has little precedent in a state legislature with respect from local members on land use issues — would mean going to war with Ramos.

A Senate source who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation said Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​is unlikely to introduce a bill that would ignore Ramos’ opposition and open up parks in her district.

Bronx Sen. Nathalia Fernandez’s district includes Bally’s Golf Links at Ferry Point, the site of another casino bid that also requires a park bill. She has been floated as a possible solution for Cohen’s team if she were to introduce a bill that would at once clear parks in the Bronx and the land next to Citi Field.

But Fernandez dismissed that idea today.

“Given her respect for her colleagues in the Legislature, if the Senator chooses to introduce a parks alienation bill, it will not include any area outside her district,” Justin Sanchez, the chief of staff of Fernandez, to Playbook. “Today’s news doesn’t change that.”

Since New York State announced it would grant three casino licenses in the New York City area, Cohen has taken every opportunity to win one, hiring an army of lobbyists, sending out hundreds of mailers and courting a group of local politicians to win. He spent lavishly on the process.

But standing in his way from the start has been the progressive senator, who has been occasionally presented as Mayor Eric Adams’ main challenger in 2025. After months of hints, Ramos finally came out publicly against the project today.

“I think it’s a sad state of affairs when casinos are the most important economic development idea in our state,” she told reporters today from the second floor of the Capitol. “The business model for casinos, by definition, is to extract wealth from people. … This is not something that would be helpful.” —Jason Beeferman

Gov. Kathy Hochul wants social media companies to work with lawmakers to protect children under 18.

HOCHUL PUSHES FOR SOCIAL MEDIA BILL: Working with the state to legislate to protect, or deal with, children under the age of 18 — that’s the message Gov. Kathy Hochul is sending to social media moguls.

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The push to restrict minors’ use of social media — one of the highest-profile fights this session in Albany — pits tech companies against the Democratic governor. And because there are few legislative disputes left to settle, Hochul is putting a lot of firepower into this.

“We are not against business, we are against harming our children,” Hochul told reporters on Tuesday. “They should see that and work with us on this legislation instead of saying no. So I think we’re making some progress; Some of the responsible companies are already taking steps themselves and I commend them.”

The measure is aimed at protecting the mental health of children who view content that proponents — including the state teachers union — claim could be addictive and otherwise disturbing to them. It has faced backlash from well-heeled social media giants across the country, including Meta.

But Hochul remains optimistic.

She said part of the legislation being drafted would include a stricter process to prove users are over 18, although she did not clarify what those checks would look like.

“Companies already need to do this for online gaming and tobacco sales,” she said. “You already have to do this, if they say you can’t do that, I don’t believe in it.”

Julie Samuels, president and CEO of Tech:NYC, said the organization is “having productive discussions with lawmakers and community groups about these bills.”

“But this is an extremely complicated task, and we must be careful to avoid the fate of every other state that has passed similar bills: years of delays in getting child support while rushed legislation remains stuck in the courts,” Samuels added. Catherine Cordero

KENNEDY, STEIN CLAIM ACCESS TO VOTE: Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein stopped by the Capitol this afternoon to claim she would soon deliver enough petitions to the state Board of Elections to secure a spot on the New York ballot.

“We know from the Democratic primaries that were held in this state a little over a month ago that the bottom has fallen out of the Democratic Party,” Stein said.

The Greens lost their automatic voting status in 2020, thanks to new rules that hurt minor parties. They now have to submit 45,000 signatures for a ballot,

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Stein declined to say how many they actually submitted. “We don’t really know,” she said. She claimed that “the system is so oppressive” that it is impossible to count signatures.

Another candidate who filed petitions in New York today: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has collected more than 135,000 petitions after a collection process that faced some accusations of misleading signers. That’s more “than any presidential candidate has ever filed in the state,” Kennedy claimed in a tweet.

That turns out to be a highlight for every candidate. The record was previously claimed by Kennedy’s then-brother-in-law Andrew Cuomo, who raised $100,000 for his 2002 gubernatorial bid. –Bill Mahoney

CHARTER WARS – New York Mayor Eric Adams maintains tight control over his recently announced charter review commission. At a news conference today, his administration said it has no plans to hire outside staff to help with the venture, which would mean opening up the city’s governing document and proposing changes that would be put to the council on the November ballot. voters will be presented.

The mayor’s break with custom – most mayors have created multiple charter review committees – makes the operation more in line with City Hall’s wishes, at a time when the creation of the committee is already widely seen as an ad hoc response to the city council’s urge for more advice. and agreement with Adams’ appointments.

“You really have to have staff if you’re going to take it seriously at all,” John Kaehny, head of the government reform group Reinvent Albany, said in an interview. “[The mayor’s commission] lacks any seriousness, and the mayor is actually giving ammunition to critics who say it is a foolish political exercise.”

But speaking to reporters, Adams said past mayors have spent too much money on charter revisions. “I believe in lean and fast and getting things done,” he said. “We spend too much money on window dressing. We can do our job better.” – Joe Anuta

– Former State Senator Todd Kaminsky uses a legal loophole to lobby against environmentalists. (Bloomberg)

— The sun will set perfectly between them buildings over the next two days in Manhattan. (Daily news)

An appeals court ruled that the state has violated the rights of opioid companies, which could mean New York would have to pay back millions of dollars. (Times Union)

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