State Senator Diane Savino is not pleased with GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. After watching Mr. Romney’s New Hampshire victory speech, Senator Savino wrote a Facebook post saying, “I sometimes hate this frigging business.” The Politicker talked to Senator Savino this morning to find out why she found Mr. Romney’s speech “offensive” and to get her thoughts on the prospect of a casino in Coney Island, which is part of her seat in the 23rd District.
Senator Savino described Mr. Romney’s speech as “the worst kind of gutter politics.”
“He made direct statements accusing the President of exploiting the politics of envy, the statement that President Obama does not care about America, that President Obama is a socialist. It was really the worst kind of gutter politics,” Senator Savino said. “You want to disagree with President Obama? Fine, but stop trying to insinuate or overtly state that he’s un-American. That’s what I took offense to.”
The senator also took issue with Mr. Romney for giving “the impression that average Americans aren’t really hurting” and are “being manipulated in feeling like there’s this economic disparity.”
“They’re not being manipulated, it’s a reality,” Senator Savino said.
Senator Savino is a Democrat, but she and three other Senators broke with the Democratic conference last year to form the more Republican-friendly Independent Democratic Caucus. She also enjoys a unique, bipartisan friendship with Republican State Senator Nicole Malliotakis.
Since Senator Savino represents the 23rd District, which includes Coney Island, we asked her about the possibility of a casino coming to the legendary Brooklyn amusement park site. She said she found it “very odd” she hadn’t been asked about the casino issue by other members of the media who spoke to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Councilman Dominic Recchia and Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny.
“I’m sort of amused, because first the Post did a piece on it and the Advance had a piece yesterday and it was very odd to me that they interviewed Marty, and Dominic and Alec– and I’m the senator. Nobody called me and I’m the senator for Coney Island,” Senator Savino said.
In his State of the State address last week, Governor Cuomo discussed his desire to pass a constitutional amendment lifting the state ban on casino gambling. Though most of the discussion of the potential for a New York casino has focused on the Aqueduct racetrack site, Mr. Markowitz has floated the idea of having a casino in Coney Island. Senator Savino said “the big question” remains whether the ban will be lifted, but if commercial gambling does come to New York, she thinks Coney Island has great potential.
“I’m sure part of the conversation between now and the passage of the amendment is about where these casinos going to be located. Is Coney Island a good place for it? I think there’s tremendous opportunity for a casino in Coney Island because it’s already zoned for recreation in some spots,” Senator Savino said.
Senator Savino also cited the recent redevelopment in the area that will allow for “hotels and destination retail.”
“The groundwork is already laid,” she said.
Though Senator Savino thinks a Coney Island casino has potential, she wants to make sure the people in the community want gaming in their neighborhood.
“I would sit down with the borough president in Brooklyn and the Community Board. All the people who live there, they expect that Coney Island is going to be a huge development. They’re already anticipating the retail and hotels, but we have to see how they feel about a casino.”
Ultimately, even if the residents of Coney Island clamor for a casino, Senator Savino expects the gaming companies will make the final call about casino locations.
“In the end, the people who determine where to build casinos will be the industry. They’re going to do a market analysis, Senator Savino said. “The state isn’t running or operating the casinos.”