On the compact with the Seneca Nation casino, some local senators voted yes before they voted no
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — On the compact with the Seneca Nation casino, some local senators voted yes before they voted no.
Friday, the New York State Senate authorized the governor and her office to negotiate details of a new 20 year compact with the Seneca Nation. As first reported by Politico, the preliminary compact includes a Seneca casino in the Rochester market.
Wednesday, News10NBC can tell you that some local senators voted yes before they voted no.
Senator Pam Helming says she had no idea that a casino was in the deal and when she found out, she changed her vote.
“Today, we take a major step forward for the relationship between New York State and the Seneca Nation,” said Sen. Tim Kennedy of Buffalo.
Kennedy made the speech on the Senate floor just before the vote to authorize negotiations on the compact. Kennedy sponsored the bill. Neither Kennedy nor any other senator who spoke about it mention a casino.
“What this bill does is takes that step to enable that agreement in principal to move forward,” Kennedy said.
When the floor vote was tallied only one senator voted no.
Clerk: “Announce the results.”
Dep. Clerk: “In relation to calendar 1837, voting in the negative Sen. Cooney. Ayes 62. Nays 1.”
Clerk: “The bill is passed.”
Senator Jeremy Cooney represents Rochester and the west side towns.
“What the terms are, how that may or may not involve Rochester is still unknown,” he told Berkeley Brean Monday when he was still the only no vote.
But now, the official Senate vote shows four no’s including Senators Helming, Samra Brouk, and Tom O’Mara.
Helming’s district includes five towns in Monroe County and the counties with Del Lago casino and Finger Lakes gaming.
By phone Wednesday afternoon, Helming told Berkeley Brean “Senator Kennedy never mentioned anything about casinos and there was never any discussion about that.”
Then she saw media reports about the casino.
“So I started making calls and digging to get the truth,” she said. “When the Senate re-opened Monday that’s when I put in my request to change my vote.”
News10NBC is waiting to hear from Senators Brouk and O’Mara about their votes.
Sen. Brouk represents Rochester and the east side towns. Sen. O’Mara represents Seneca County.
Changing votes doesn’t happen very often but it’s allowed.
Helming expressed frustration about being left out in the cold on the details of the compact that could impact her district and the community.
“It speaks to total lack of transparency from the governor and her team,” Helming said. “There’s a sense of arrogance among too many leaders in New York that they don’t need to reach out and talk to local officials or even other state officials to get their thoughts.”
The governor’s office says Gov. Kathy Hochul recused herself from the negotiations on the compact because of a conflict of interest with her husband’s work.
“While Delaware North is not a party to any compact with the Seneca Nation, they may have an indirect interest,” he office said in an email. “Therefore, Governor Hochul recused herself from negotiations and delegated negotiations to staff.”