Saratoga Springs, NY--It may be time for the most powerful man in the state, Sen. Joseph L. Bruno, to do New York a favor and step down. However, if the Senate that he leads fails to compromise on a franchise agreement put forth by Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his rubber-stamp, House Leader Sheldon Silver, he wont have to. If racing stops, this time, he wont run for re-election unopposed. This time, voters might kick him out. With any luck, they'd kick Silver out, too.

In response to statements made at a Monday news conference by Saratoga Springs City Supervisor Joanne Yepsen, in which she insisted that Republican Bruno and fellow Democrats Spitzer and Silver reach a timely resolution on the New York racing franchise issue, Bruno called a press conference of his own.

In a televised statement, Bruno said that he would not agree to an extension of the current NYRA franchise while negotiations were ongoing because he said the process has gone on far too long already. What kind of message does it send to the horsemen, to the world, that in New York we cant get our own act together? For three years this has been going on.

Bruno appeared a bit anxious in that televised appearance. As a horseman and self-proclaimed friend of racing, the pressure of the franchise deal might finally be getting to the 78-year-old Korean War veteran, who has represented Saratoga County since 1976.

Bruno has had a well documented feud with the Democratic governor and each have acted like petulant children in areas that effect the citizens of New York State, especially with respect to the $2.4 billion thoroughbred racing and breeding industry.

While the clock ticks down on New York racing, Albany insiders have hinted that Spitzer has made himself largely inaccessible to the negotiations process, especially after Brunos counterproductive franchise-by-committee Senate proposal that would result in chaos.

Now it is said that Bruno might allow NYRA to conduct racing with a reconstituted Board of Directors but not for the 30-year term stated in the Memorandum of Understanding between Spitzer and current NYRA management. The sticking point is that a newly created government agency would make non-racing decisions including third party negotiations of simulcast and tote contracts and the execution of marketing initiatives.

I know thats what I would want at my track: Political appointees making racing-business decisions then tell me how to market that product. And everyone thought the old NYRA was arrogant.

My new plan? Heres the key, you run it all.

Silver is no better than his Senate rival. He said on a radio show recently that thoroughbred racing is not a priority of the State Assembly.

Good of our elected representatives to take little interest in an industry that generates $2.4 billion in this state.

All of this harangue will be thrashed out behind closed doors, per usual, even though the states chief executive ran on the transparency platform. The Senate will go into special session on Dec. 13. Some Assembly members were told to make themselves available on Dec. 12.

Bruno said that he has no interest in a temporary extension of the NYRA franchise if a deal cannot be done by the Dec. 31 deadline because its taken long enough already. That would include the two years when Republican George Pataki was chief executive. Bruno was silent when Patakis Ad Hoc Committee on Racing recommended a likely amalgamation of the winning bidder, Excelsior Racing, with existing remnants of the NYRA.

What Bruno is not saying now is that he has concerns that the state law calling for an oversight committee with its Republican majority would be unworkable. The NYRA would have to provide the keys to the building. NYRA would not, of course, because they know--as Spitzer fears--that their land claim has teeth.

But the Senator has been saying a lot of other things lately, like, look at [Spitzers] priorities. He wants to give licenses to illegal aliens so that some can go terrorize people and go into public buildings and on planes and get go guns.


Then there was this on the franchise: Now is the time to activate. Energize. Not lay down and take a rest and think about oats and hay like some people are apparently doing, the rhetoric going from belicose to scary.

Silver's Assembly apparently has one priority in all this: No VLTs for Belmont, only at Aqueduct, because, he said, the Assembly is against an extension of gambling in the state.

Oh? And it would have nothing to do with the fact Aqueduct and Belmont are seven miles apart, and that Aqueduct lives in New York Citys Queens County? Could you be any more transparent, Mr. Silver?

Maybe its [Spitzer and Silver] jamming me on a personal level, Bruno said of the loyal opposition in a story Tuesday. Getting jammed would never do unless, of course, youre the one doing the jamming.

It's time for all of them to fix this thing. Fix it and move on, literally and figuratively.