Niagara Gazette

February 6, 2013

GLYNN: Cuomo casino idea revives upstate-downstate flap

By DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — It's not exactly the kind of image that Gov. Andrew Cuomo would like to convey to voters but his recent plan to help the hard-hit upstate regions could project New York state as a house divided. 

The point is, if the state chief executive can't show leadership in his own backyard, voters in other states some day may be reluctant to entrust him to the Oval Office in the White House. 

Take, for example, the Cuomo strategy to build at least three new casinos upstate at the same time the Resorts World Casino prepares a vigorous strategy to attract tourists to its Queen's location at the Aqueduct Raceway. 

Based on the upstate vs downstate plans, the emerging turf battle sends another reminder of the endless friction in the Empire State. Obviously, the lawmakers representing metropolitan New York City have the edge — strength in numbers and clout — over communities like Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Rochester. It's a safe bet that lawmakers and not the state chief executive will hold sway on this issue.

Yet another grandiose scheme, unveiled in a New York Post article Tuesday, features a massive casino and hotel project which the baseball Mets' owners reportedly want to build adjacent to their Citi Field stadium in the Queens. For the Mets, as one of their franchise officers noted, the investment would be an opportunity to recover part of the $162 million loss the Major League team suffered from the Bernie Madff Ponzi scandal. (Madoff, 71, a stockbroker who defrauded thousands of clients of billions of dollars, is serving a 150-year prison term.)

What's troublesome about this latest round of casinos — wherever they might end up — is the stark reality that New York State has apparently run out of ideas to create jobs, to improve the quality of life in scores of communities, and to make a concerted effort to lure high-tech business and industry. Instead, the emphasis it seems is on building gambling halls — none to match the splendor and appeal of Las Vegas — to suck the money out of one city or town into another. 

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PARTY TIME?: "The wife and I drove down Third Street Sunday (when the Super Bowl was on TV) and there wasn't one car parked anywhere in front of those taverns.  And they call that 'The Entertainment District?' " — a guest on the "Vince Anello Show" (WJJL Radio).

An employee at another South End business offered this solution to the dismal Third Street scene: Most of those bars don't have television sets and there are very few parking spots any way. So most people just stayed home to watch the game.

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OUT OF THE PAST:"I Remember Olcott," part of the popular documentary film series at the Erie Canal Discovery Center, 24 Church St., Lockport, will be featured at 11 a.m. Feb. 23 General admission, $6; seniors, $5; and students, $4. Additional information available at 439-0431.

In the early 1900s, Olcott was a favorite destination for thousands of daily visitors every summer, arriving via the New York Central Railroad excursions from across the state. The landmark Olcott Hotel near the beach area was demolished in 1937.

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FOOTNOTE: Overheard in the Earl W. Brydges Library, Main and Lockport streets: "That President George Bush was really a well-read man. When he heard that the creator of Cliff Notes died, Bush was real upset because that was his favorite author" — a patron checking a book out.

Contact reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.