High Salary of NYCOTB President Challenged

Two New York lawmakers say the high salary of the new NYCOTB president is illegal.

The high-priced salary given to the new president of New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. is illegal, two state legislators say, and should be investigated by an oversight agency.

“What they’re doing is totally out of bounds,” Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, chairman of the Assembly racing committee, said of NYCOTB’s hiring of Greg Rayburn for $125,000 a month. The corporation is in Chapter 9 federal bankruptcy reorganization protection and has been unable to pay its bills to various industry stakeholders.

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, chairman of the Assembly corporations committee, said the salary for Rayburn violates a new law governing public authorities that prohibits no-bid contracts. He said any contract worth more than $1 million—Rayburn would be paid $1.5 million if he’s on the job a full year—must be approved by the state comptroller.

The two lawmakers called for the state’s new Authorities Budget Office to investigate the hiring of Rayburn. NYCOTB the week of July 5 defended the salary as necessary to get someone on the job experienced in corporate restructuring.

Rayburn’s stints have included overseeing the restructuring of Magna Entertainment Corp. NYCOTB declined requests to make public Rayburn’s employment contract.

Pretlow said he and Brodsky, both Democrats from Westchester County, are poised to hold hearings to publicly look into the matter. “Just on the face of this, it is a slap in the face of the employees at OTB, who are trying to keep their meager-paying jobs,” Pretlow said.

Pretlow noted the hiring came on the same day Gov. David Paterson vetoed $700 million in spending, including to schools, health groups, and a variety of social programs. “It’s an insult and it’s outrageous,” Pretlow said.

Brodsky, who is also running in the Democratic primary to become state attorney general, said the hiring violates the principles of a law enacted only a year ago to clean up and make more transparent the operations of off-budget public authorities. He said NYCOTB is legally defined as an authority.

“They are clearly out of compliance,” Brodsky said of NYCOTB, which is owned by the state of New York.