The recent headline in a Albany Times Union story, Concerns Over Franchise Playing Into NYRAs Hands was at worst disingenuous, at best, misleading.

Before going further, I will state for the record, for the umpteenth time, that I have no dogs in this fight. The main issue for me is the continuity of New York racing which, directly and indirectly, has been a source of livelihood for most of my adult life. For this, I owe.

My other concern is for many friends Ive made along the way, the owners, jockeys and trainers of the smaller outfits, and the mega-ones, too, and the exercise riders and grooms and hot walkers and valets and clockers and mutuel clerks and managers from top to bottom, from the executive wing to the basement. In short, everyone.

And for the OTB workers, too, and for my fellow horseplayers, who make the whole thing go.

The Times Union story intimates that NYRA is willing to play a game of chicken with the state and are willing to hold their employees--and the other 40,000 people in this state who derive a living from thoroughbred racing--hostage.

In this entire process, there have been very few people among the NYRA shot callers, including their Board of Trustees, which operate without transparency just like the three Indian Chiefs in Albany--political correctness be damned--that could always be found wearing white hats.

And I include the media in all this--but only those who do not strive for the whole truth. They know who they are.

Hey, pragmatism was never my strong suit.

But concerns that are playing into NYRAs hands? I dont think so. If NYRAs whole stance is based on land ownership claims, they cannot afford to agree to an extension while negotiations continue. They believe that either they have a franchise to run racing, or they do not.

Unreasonable? Its not like the states lawmakers havent known about this scenario since the fall of 2001.

So now were supposed to believe that its been NYRA all along thats been holding a gun to peoples heads?

If my name was Mr. NYRA, and my existence depended on my claims to land worth an estimated $1-billion, I dont think Id jeopardize my future position without an agreement in principle. And now they should operate without a net on a handshake?

Following that gentlemans handshake, who could be trusted to count everyones fingers?

If Im Mr. NYRA, Id have to roll the dice in court. The governor knew that. Thats why he proposed to extend NYRAs existence another 30 years.

Republican Sen. Bill Larkin Jr., New Yorks Chairman of Racing, Gaming and Wagering, went on the Down the Stretch television show Saturday morning and the soon-to-be 80-year-old appointee spoke about a vision for New York racing before essentially parroting the solution put forth last week by Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

Talk about same old, same old

Our vision for the basis of an agreement between all parties is this: NYRA would probably have to compromise on the 30-year extension--the 15-to-20 years suggested by the Senate is unrealistic under the circumstance--and agree to fewer of their own appointees to the Board of Trustees in favor of--yes--political hacks. Hopefully, those appointees would know something about racing.

Gov. Steamroller then would have to negotiate in good faith no matter what the sign says on his door, tweaking the original Memorandum of Understanding in terms of duration and recompense to NYRA and putting Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver in his place about no VLTs for Belmont Park. Make Silver tell everyone what he wants for his House to sign off on Belmont beyond having a VLT monopoly on the Queens/Nassau County border.

People in Elmont, like people in Saratoga Springs and Canandaigua, need money, too, and the venue that hosts the Triple Crowns third jewel needs a facelift badly. And those Belmont grounds have room for a proposed destination complex for all the people in the state to enjoy. More importantly, people from other states, too.

Sen. Bruno has to get off giving away a store he doesnt own to people he wants indebted to him. Who is he to replace the entire Board of any corporation, not-for-profit or otherwise, in the name of transparency and accountability? Who minds his store? What right does he have to take a product he doesnt own--races for export, via simulcasting--and cut a third party a slice of that action? Hes supposed to be working for voters, not lobbyists.

Maybe if some of the above were the foundation of a resolution to the franchise issue, the process could move forward rapidly from that point forward. But that would require peace on earth and good will, commodities in very short supply, even in this holiday season.