Governor Andrew Cuomo just released a long and odd letter that he sent to the state’s legislative leaders arguing in favor of his proposal to build the world’s largest convention center in Queens and to expand legalized gambling. It’s full of assertions (“This investment would be one of the largest in the state’s history at no cost to the state”) and projections that should be read very skeptically, especially the gaudy job-creation estimates, which are eerily reminiscent of the hype used to sell Atlantic Yards.
But what’s really weird, especially coming from Cuomo, is the passive tone. “I have never been a casino or racino proponent,” he writes, “but we are here now and the question is how to best maximize the economics and protect our citizens.” We are here now? That makes it sound as if the proposal were an act of nature, like a blizzard, instead of a policy choice by our state’s bold leader. Yes, some editorial pages, most prominently the Times and the Post, have editorialized against the idea of a mega-convention-casino-plex. But today’s letter shows that the governor recognizes a deeper political need to recalibrate the rollout.