Opinion Editorial on Casino Gambling
Schneiderman Ignore Casino Measure Stench
To game or not to game? That should be the question — “Shall casino gambling be allowed in New York?” — on this fall’s ballot. But instead the fix is in, the odds shifted to favor the pro-gambling “house.”
And adding to the odor is that no one will admit to actually changing the wording — and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose phrasing was altered, won’t speak up about it.
That’s not the only rancid element: There’s also the suggestion that a judge slanted a ruling on the language to please Gov. Cuomo, and so keep his job.
In accordance with state law for ballot measures meant to amend the state Constitution, Schneiderman sent to the Board of Elections a neutral wording for the question. But somehow the board wound up altering the phrasing to ask about legalizing casinos for the sake of “promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated.”
And the board didn’t publicize the new language until two weeks after the deadline for anyone to sue.
A Brooklyn lawyer, Eric Snyder, tried anyway, citing the board’s failure to provide timely notice of the language and seeking to force the state to change the ballot wording back to some degree of neutrality. The judge who ruled against him, an acting Supreme Court justice in Albany, will lose his job next year unless he’s re-appointed by Gov. Cuomo — who many suspect is behind the ballot shenanigans.
Many things don’t pass the smell test here.
The wording matters. A Siena poll found that it shifted opinion on the question from 49 percent for legalization and 49 percent opposed to 55 percent for, 42 percent against.
The irony is that someone gamed up the gaming resolution. The reason why is obvious, the question we’re all left with is: Who?
Should the judge have recused himself, given the appearance of impropriety? How did the wording get goosed up at the last minute, and at whose urging? Shouldn’t someone in elected office speak out against ballot manipulation?
Oddly, Schneiderman did not appear in the lawsuit to defend (or oppose) the Board of Elections. His comments on the issue have been restrained.
Yet the attorney general is the key figure. He has, to his credit, begun to speak up for maintaining the independence of the Moreland Act Commission, but he needs to stand up on the gaming of the gaming question, too.
It may be too late for judicial intervention, but it’s not too late for the people’s attorney to raise his voice. He, after all, is independently elected. It’s Eric Schneiderman’s duty — we the people shouldn’t have to rely on Eric Snyder.
Stealth manipulation, meddling and muddling have reached Machiavellian proportions in Albany. The people’s attorney ought to step to the plate and bring some clarity to these matters. He is our last best hope. Will we hear from him before Nov. 5?