Friday, January 2, 2015

Florida Decoupling Revisted

By Dennis McKeon

To Review...a bit of history on the Florida "decoupling" question, and who is actually working to protect the casino-invested racetracks at the expense of Florida's Racing Greyhounds.

When It’s Not All About the Dogs

Most of us are already familiar with the decoupling question as it concerns Florida’s casino racetracks. To review and synopsize, some of the Greyhound racetracks were granted licenses to conduct casino style wagering, contingent upon also offering live greyhound racing, because that is what they were originally licensed to do.

As part of this bargain, these casino corporations agreed to earmark a small percentage of their casino profits to supplement the purses that the greyhounds compete for, which would naturally be impacted negatively by the introduction of casino wagering on the track premises. Everyone agreed this arrangement was equitable and satisfactory.

But then, as they are wont to do, greedy casino corporations began to act like greedy casino corporations. They wanted to slither out of the deal they made with the greyhound kennels, claiming that racing was no longer a viable or profitable attraction, after years of managerial malpractice on their part, in refusing to promote racing at their casinos. As if that were not entirely predictable.

They wanted to “decouple” greyhound purses from the casino take. They wanted all the money for themselves. Even though it was the toil of the greyhounds and their owners and handlers that built their facilities, sustained them for decades, and which afforded them the standing to circumvent the usual licensing procedure, and to “backdoor-in” their casino privileges in the first place.

These casino tracks then found themselves some odd comrades, in the braintrust of the purulent anti-racing political action group, Grey2k, and their politician lackeys.

For more than a decade, Grey2k has proven to be a relentless and effective foe of greyhound racing, seemingly incapable of hitting the bedrock of deception and unethics, no matter how low they stoop and dig to defame, negatively stereotype and promote hatred toward a small class of working greyhound professionals.

The endgame for Grey2k is to criminalize wagering on greyhound racing, which since day one, had put them in opposition to these very same casino/racetracks with whom they now shared a common objective.
Grey2k finances their operations via people who infer that they are a greyhound welfare group, and that donations to them will “help us help the greyhounds”.

However, a perusal of their IRS-990 forms shows that they have given but a scant 1.37% of the millions they accrued in donations since 2006, toward only “unspecified” charities. They do no greyhound adoption, nor do they provide any hands-on greyhound welfare services.

In Florida, Grey2k was an enthusiastic supporter of “decoupling”, and enlisted one Senator Maria Sachs to help ramrod their agenda through. The planned vote on decoupling legislation was to come on the heels of the release of a stunning, disturbing, and questionably timed year-old report of greyhound racing fatalities suffered at Florida’s greyhound tracks.

The report documented what seemed to be an extreme number of racing related deaths over a 7-month period. Subsequent analysis of the report showed that slightly more than half of those deaths were actually attributable to racing, and not just to normal, expected cases of natural, premature mortality.

Still, to veteran greyhound professionals, the number was staggering and unprecedented. It strongly suggested that there was a glaring conflict of interest for those casino corporation/racetracks, whose job it is to maintain a safe racing surface and safe lure equipment on the racetracks they own, for the greyhounds.

The negative publicity that injuries and racing related deaths of greyhounds engendered, broadcast ad-nauseum and unquestioningly by all media, only seemed to aid and abet them in their quest to “decouple” from greyhound racing.

The Florida Greyhound Association felt it necessary, in light of that odious conflict of interest, to introduce a bill, a Three Point Safety Plan, called the Smith Amendment, that would mandate the racetracks provide a stipulated standard of racetrack surface maintenance, and safeguard their electronic lures, so that they presented no shock or concussion hazard to the greyhounds, in the event they failed, or in the unusual instance where a greyhound makes contact with the electrified lure.

When the decoupling legislation was brought before the Florida Legislature, it fell apart. With it, went the proposed requirement to have the attending veterinarian and trainer file injury reports, each time a greyhound suffers a racing-related injury.

In a most chilling and bizarre scene, when the issue of the Florida Greyhound Association’s proposed Three Point Safety legislation (the Smith Amendment) came up for discussion, it was none other than Senator Maria Sachs, Grey2k’s favorite Florida politician, who pooh-poohed the idea that the tracks were not optimally safe for those greyhounds, and who spoke against this proposed bill, which was designed to insure a better level of safety for all Florida greyhounds.

Senator Sachs has worked hand in hand with Grey2k, through thick and thin, to rid the state of greyhound racing. To “help the greyhounds”--on the premise that racing is “cruel and abusive”, because greyhounds can be injured and even suffer fatalities while racing.

Here is the thrust and text of Senator Sachs’ testimony before the Florida Legislature, speaking out against the need for the Florida Greyhound Association’s safety proposal:

“…I have visited many of these tracks in the state of Florida. I found them to be well managed. I found them to have good safety precautions. I never found any of the tracks—the tracks themselves—to be kept in an unsanitary or unsafe manner…”

So spaketh the political handmaiden of Grey2k.

The racing injuries that they have trumpeted from the rooftops, far and wide, as evidence that an industry, a lifestyle and a culture do not even deserve to exist, apparently happen in a vacuum.

I would suppose it must be similar to the ethical and moral vacuum they personify.

Copyright, 2014