A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver would not comment on the NYCOTB issue. Magna officials did not return calls for comment.
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is urging state lawmakers and the governor to approve his plan to sell the New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. to a Magna Entertainment-led consortium as a way to raise much-needed revenues in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.The sale of NYCOTB was thought to have been put off, in part because the New York Racing Association, which lost in the bidding process for the corporation, had managed to convince its allies in the Republican-led Senate to quash the measure proposed this summer by the lame-duck New York City mayor. But Giuliani, whose popularity since the World Trade Center attacks has given him more political influence than usual for a politician with two months remaining in his term, said the sale of NYCOTB is needed now more than ever. He called the sale "a good program and a good plan" that will raise $250 million for the financially ailing city government.The funding is needed now, more than ever he said, because the city faces a $1-billion hole in its budget because of the recent disaster.Giuliani called on state leaders to approve the Magna sale. He cited it as one of two revenue-raisers the state could quickly approve to help the city out of its fiscal jam. A Giuliani aide said the sale would "provide a lot of immediate and necessary cash."Still, no one at the state capital jumped to Giuliani's plan despite calls by his top aides to officials to get the sale talks moving again. Lobbyists and legislators believe any action on the proposed sale will have to wait until next year, at which point the city government will be run by either Democrat Mark Green or Republican Michael Bloomberg. Neither has taken a firm position on the NYCOTB sale issue.John McArdle, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, NYRAís longtime protector at the state capital, would only note that three Senate hearings scheduled to consider the sale were postponed after Sept. 11. "Whether they are rescheduled or not is up in the air," he said.