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Bad Bet

June 6, 2010

Being Secretary to the Governor is the most demanding job in government.

Don’t be confused here. We’re not talking about the capable individuals who
serve as clerical aides to the governor. We’re talking chief of staff. Top
aide. The governor’s right-hand man.

By statute and tradition, this position wields enormous power.  For example,
budget negotiations with legislative leaders are directed by the Secretary
to the Governor. So are the end-of-session legislative horse trading
sessions.

Right now (Sunday afternoon), Larry Schwartz, the current Secretary, is
working with the top aides to the Assembly Speaker and Senate President on a
renewed push to close a fiscal gap of a billion dollars or so. Since the end
of the scheduled legislative session is right around the corner, legislative
items are also being discussed.

Schwartz obviously has a lot on his plate. But that’s not all. He was
named on Friday as the new head of New York City Off-Track Betting Corp., an
agency on the verge of bankruptcy.

As capable as Schwartz is, he can’t serve in these positions and do justice
to both. Nobody could. It’s simply impossible.

Moreover, it’s a clear conflict. OTB’s interests have to be balanced against
those of NYRA, the racinos and other sectors of the industry.

How does Schwartz make those judgments objectively while wearing the hat of
an OTB chair? In this regard, there are countless decisions that impact the
gaming and racing sectors. He can’t recuse himself from all of them.

This arrangement makes no sense. If OTB is where Schwartz wants to end up
after concluding his service with Paterson– fine. He’ll probably do a good
job. But he can’t be Secretary and OTB chair at the same time.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Black Hat permalink
    June 6, 2010 7:19 PM

    It’s not on the verge of bankruptcy. NYCOTB is in Ch. 9 bankruptcy.

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