Why Bruce Blakeman is starting to sow doubt

10 Min Read

With help from Shawn Ness

Is it manipulated?: Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman is laying the groundwork to argue that the bidding process for the three hugely lucrative casino licenses could work against him.

“We’re moving forward with our plans for a casino, and whether it’s a fair process — and I’m a little concerned about it — but whether it’s a fair process. Nassau County gets that permit because we are the best location,” the County Executive said said last week while invoking “Sid & Friends in the Morning,” a right-wing radio show.

After reiterating that the decision is in the hands of a state board, he added: “If it is a fair process, we win.”

The comments are the first Playbook has ever heard of Republicans casting doubt on the integrity of a highly rigorous and public bidding process for New York State’s casino licenses.

But questions have already been raised that the bid for a massive casino on Long Island could be especially vulnerable given Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul’s control of the Gaming Commission. That’s because the majority owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation is GOP megadonor Miriam Adelson, who — along with her late husband — donated $90 million to a pro-Trump super PAC during the previous presidential election.

She’s not the only Trump donor vying for a casino.

Earlier this week, Mets owner and billionaire Steve Cohen’s casino dreams were all but crushed by Senator Jessica Ramos after she spoke out against the bid. Cohen’s army of lobbyists was working to put a massive casino and hotel in the parking lot next to Citi Field, but the proposed site is in a state-controlled park area that would need approval from the state legislature to change use.

And a Bally’s Corporation bid for a casino at the Bronx Golf Course, formerly known as Trump Links, also requires a similar park divestment bill. Playbook can report that Assembly member Gary Pretlow, a Mount Vernon Democrat who chairs the lower chamber’s gaming committee, has introduced a law on the alienation of parks for Ballies.

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“What we’re trying to do is assume that everyone [bid] is good, until it’s proven not to be,” Pretlow told Playbook. “So we want the community councils to be established and the land issues to be resolved.”

Curiously, neither the Senate Gaming Chairman, Senator Joseph Addabbo, nor any of his colleagues in the Senate have introduced the necessary equivalent bill. State Sen. Nathalia Fernandez, whose district includes the golf course, told us she is still weighing the benefits of introducing a park alienation law this session.

For his part, Blakeman has said the Sands project would bring a $5 billion investment to Nassau County and claims it would likely be the most profitable casino in the country. However, plans for the casino, which would sit on the site of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, are currently on hold after neighboring Hofstra University successfully filed a lawsuit to void the lease agreement between Las Vegas Sands and the county .

When Playbook contacted Blakeman, the provincial government declined to elaborate on its “concerns” about the fairness of the bidding process.

“Of course we are concerned that there is a level playing field and that politics is not part of the process,” Blakeman said, referring obliquely to “gossip” that he declined to discuss.

“When you’re talking about as much money as is involved in issuing a permit,” he added, “you want to make sure there’s fairness and integrity in the process, without political bias.” —Jason Beeferman

Assembly Member Scott Bendett was ordered by the Assembly Ethics Committee to undergo sensitivity training after making “two statements regarding religion and national origin

MEETING member faces ethical action: The Assembly Ethics Committee has taken action against Scott Bendett.

The freshman Republican “made two statements regarding religion and national origin to an international intern,” the committee concluded. “Given Member Bendett’s sincere contrition and honest, active and forthcoming participation in the process, coupled with the current highly emotional climate regarding international conflict,” the Committee has ordered him to undergo sensitivity training.

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It is only the second action in the past six years against a sitting member of the General Assembly. The committee ordered that Democrat Danny O’Donnell be retrained on the General Assembly’s harassment policy comments he made last year.

Bendett is a top target for Democrats in November. His district, which includes suburbs south and east of the city of Albany, favored Joe Biden in 2020. Democrats Chloe Pierce and Kent Sopris are entering the primaries for their party’s nomination to challenge him. –Bill Mahoney

Fighting revenge porn: State lawmakers want to expand New York’s anti-revenge porn law.

A bill being considered in the final week of the legislative session aims to strengthen the original 2019 provision, which established criminal penalties for the non-consensual release of intimate images and videos.

State Senator Monica Martinez, a Democrat from Long Island, want to add an extension that would also criminalize the threat of distributing that material.

“The threat of releasing compromising personal content can be as psychologically damaging to a victim as the act itself,” Martinez said in a statement. “This improvement in the law will better protect New Yorkers from the perpetrator who tries to use shame as a tool of coercion.”

The bill was previously approved by the Senate, but must still be approved by the General Assembly. Lawmakers in that chamber were reluctant to embrace an expansion of criminal penalties. Nick Reisman

ACTION ON THE HEALTH ACT: A resolution endorsing the “objectives” of the New York Health Act — a bill that creates a single-payer health care plan to provide universal coverage in the state — was tentatively approved by the Democratic State Committee at this week’s convention.

The resolution also called on the governor and Legislature to “expedite legislative solutions” to ensure full health care coverage for all New Yorkers.

The vote is symbolic. But proponents of the measure hope it will boost the New York Health Act, which is decades old and has struggled to gain broad support among Democrats amid opposition from powerful public sector unions.

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The account was reintroduced in July 2023 by Health Committee Chairwoman Amy Paulin and Senator Gustavo Rivera.

“This resolution unites the Democratic party in the goal of passing the New York Health Act, the only legislation that provides comprehensive health care to every New Yorker without barriers to care,” said Melanie D’Arrigo, executive director of the Campaign for New York Health. and a former Democratic congressional candidate.

Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs told Playbook that the measure was approved “with the understanding that there are complex issues to be resolved” given opposition from key constituencies such as the labor movement.

But Jacobs can point to areas of clearer agreement among Democrats during his two-day state convention: a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in the wake of pro-Palestinian demonstrations on college campuses across the country that have caused Democrats a political headache in an election year. was also approved.

“The fact that it was unanimous speaks volumes about where Democrats stand on this issue,” Jacobs said. Maya Kaufman and Nick Reisman

– HOCHUL’S BIG BUFFALO BOOT PROBLEM: An ethics watchdog agency has subpoenaed Empire State Development for documents related to its use of the state’s “I Love New York” suite at Buffalo Bills stadium, used by top state lawmakers. (NY Focus)

– Call it a comeback: The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that an appeals court was too quick to dismiss the NRA’s claims. Even Democratic judges, like Sonia Sotomayor, who routinely sided with the NRA, turned things around and voted in their favor. (POLITICS)

– TRUMP’S TESTIMONY: Donald Trump said he wanted to testify at his hush money trial. But it was too little too late, and he didn’t want to be charged with possible perjury. (Daily news)

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