Mathiesen Challenges Yepsen Solicitation To NYRA For A Free Box

Commissioner Mathiesen submitted a complaint to the Ethics Board arguing that given the nature of the services provided to the New York State Racing Association by the city, a request for a free box at the track by the mayor raises serious questions of  propriety.  The Ethics Board found no violation regarding the mayor’s request.

Personally, I have mixed feeling on the issue.  What I found of particular interest, though,  was the letter from Christopher Kay denying the request.  It points out the thorny nature  of politics for NYRA. I  applaud Mr. Kay and NYRA’s rigorous policy in staying out of politics but I am a little skeptical about the motivation.

This is a link to the documents: Ethics_Inquiry Re Track Box 


7 thoughts on “Mathiesen Challenges Yepsen Solicitation To NYRA For A Free Box”

  1. Personally, I think NYRA should provide a box for the City of Saratoga Springs as it has done in the past. As host city, it does provide many services that cost the city. It is true that it is a win-win for the city too in revenue for business that keeps many of them in the black. However, I do think if they don’t want to provide it free to the city, a nominal charge might be in order. Then, it might come from city coffers…say $500.00. Also, it should be clearly stated by the city who gets to use it and when and for what purpose. Doesn’t the Governor get a box from them?
    each commissioner should get a chance to use it. They might even have a drawing or contest of some sort for town folks to have a chance to win a day at the track in the box.


  2. As Mary says, “a box for the City of Saratoga Springs as it has done in the past.” In the recent past, this was common, every-year practice, for the Mayor to get the box seats. The Mayor always shared with the other commissioners. Each commissioner also received free admission passes for themselves and for other political contributors, friends, business persons. For Mathieson to say it is unethical is very humorous, yet another showing of pettiness by a commissioner. These five politicians on our city council need a good kick in the pants to wake them up. Being Trump-like is not likeable.


  3. I more than get what Chris is saying here: politicians are not supposed to receive ‘gifts’ and such. It makes sense. It’s hard when it’s something that has been given to the city for as long as this has been to understand that this really isn’t any different in regards to a ‘gift’.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t think there should be a “Mayor’s” box at the track, and given the current mix of commissioners, it would never be shared equally if the Mayor had control over use, but there also has to be a practical middle ground here. None of the five commissioners are destitute (perhaps other than Mayor Yepsen, who never fails to complain about her salary whenever she’s in a jam) – why not come to agreement to split the cost equally and split its use equally (or as equally as possible, with drawings for the larger races) and call it the “Council” box? $1400 a piece.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I generally agree with Ms. O’Donnell. In the past, the Mayor’s and Governor’s boxes weren’t so much a gift to the individual, but a courtesy to the host city and state. They’re use was supposed to be ceremonial — a treat for visiting dignitaries, such as they are (of course, the real dignitaries usually sit with the Whitneys), but in practice that wasn’t always the case. We subsidize police and fire protection for the track, among other amenities, so courtesy boxes are the least NYRA can do.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Further thought:

      The NYRA argument, as outlined in Mr. Kay’s response, goes something like this — If we give the city a free box, elected officials can use it to reward favored campaign donors. Ergo, use of the box is a political contribution, a practice which is now banned.

      True or not, NYRA is using it as an excuse to charge for something they used to give away. The simple answer is for the city to forbid use of the box as a donor perk. I worked at the track for a couple of decades as a photojournalist and when it was occupied, mainly saw it used by city council members, their families and their friends (who, of course, could have been financial supporters). Whether or not that’s appropriate use, is a separate question.

      As far as the Mayor’s request goes, based on tradition, it’s completely legitimate and the rest is petty bickering. Enough, already!


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