ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deputy secretary for gaming and racing was identified Thursday as the state official whose e-mail to the New York Racing Association resulted in the Wandering Dago lunch truck being bounced from the Saratoga Race Course just hours later.
Bennett Liebman’s July 19 e-mail to NYRA President Christopher Kay — which does not explicitly order the food truck’s ouster — was introduced Thursday morning during oral arguments in a federal lawsuit brought by the controversially named fusion barbecue truck’s owners. Brandon Snooks and Andrea Loguidice are suing NYRA as well as the state Office of General Services, which in May denied the Schenectady-based truck’s application to sell its food on the Empire State Plaza, citing its name among the reasons for the rejection.
Although Liebman’s name wasn’t mentioned during the court proceedings before Judge Mae D’Agostino, Wandering Dago attorney George Carpinello provided the e-mail’s text to reporters outside U.S. District Court.
“I’m sure that the name of this particular food truck at the track is designed to be self-deprecating, but … I just believe that people will find the name of the truck both offensive and insensitive, and that the fallout for authorizing this truck will inevitably land on NYRA,” Liebman wrote. “Is there any way to at least modify the name of this particular truck? I see this as a problem waiting to blow up.”
The e-mail was sent at 2:59 p.m. on the first day of the meet; seven hours later, the truck’s owners got the bad news from NYRA Vice President Stephen Travers that they’d have to operate under a different name or depart the premises. They left the next morning.
Thursday’s appearance before D’Agostino ran past an hour, with Carpinello as well as NYRA’s attorney Henry Greenberg and Assistant Attorney General Lauren Sprague, representing OGS, framing their …read more