New Yorkers Say Yes to Casinos, No to Judges

New Yorkers Say Yes to Casinos, No to Judges

Casino is coming to New York state. Moral standards a fleeing the state.

In addition to filling numerous political offices, New York voters were asked to decide on six ballot initiatives. Four of these were largely housekeeping measures (land swaps and sewer rules), while two of them will have a significant effect on life in New York State. Proposal 1 passed with about 55% support and will allow seven Las Vegas-style casinos to be built in the state. Proposal 6, which lost about 60-40%, would have increased the retirement age for top judges in the state to 80.

The casino vote is considered a major victory for Governor Andrew Cuomo, who supported the idea from its earliest stages. The way he managed to remove certain interests from the “No” camp was truly inspired, . He cut deals with the Indian casinos, offered a carrot and stick to race-track betting sites, and he ensured that Atlantic City didn’t feel threatened because the first four of the seven will be built upstate.

Michael Gormley of the Associated Press explained the latter point: “One [casino] would be in the Southern Tier near Binghamton, two in the Catskills and Mid-Hudson Valley region, and another in the Saratoga Springs-Albany area. A New York City casino would be built in seven years and possibly more could be built in the suburbs.”


The anti-gambling crowd, thus, was reduced to those with moral qualms about it, and the inevitable do-gooders who note that casino jobs and revenue are always oversold (they are, by the way). However, Cuomo argued that New Yorkers are gambling away $1.2 billion in casinos in neighboring states. All his proposal would do, he claimed, was keep that money in the state. Frankly, I’m not so sure, but there is one consideration that marks this as a lovely political move. He’s up for reelection next year, and he can tell folks upstate that he has delivered this for them — and it will be too early in the game to prove his rosy picture was just a pipe dream. If you’re a betting man or woman, wager on four more years.

As for Proposal 6, this was a political scam dressed as good-government reform. Supporter Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman almost campaigned for a “yes” vote, but judicial ethics prevented that. So, he came as close as he could without crossing that line. His argument was that the retirement age of 70 (which can be extended to 76) came in just after the Civil War. People live longer now, and it takes years of experience in legal practice before a person is ready to be a judge.

After the results were in, Lippman told the press that he was disappointed. “We were unable to get a consistent message across that people should be judged on their ability to do the job and not on some outdated conceptions of age.”


That is true, but the real intent was to keep a bunch of old white guys on the bench for another few years — which would have prevented capable non-white, non-old and/or non-guys from being judged on their ability to do the job. If the proposal had passed, judges appointed to New York’s top court by former Republican Governor George Pataki could have outlasted a reelected Cuomo. Now, that can’t happen. Indeed, if he is reelected, Cuomo will be able to appoint all seven members of the Court of Appeals (what is called the Supreme Court in other states). That will leave a lasting impression to say the least.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons