Supreme Court rejects racino case; Racing Commission expected to address license next month

The New Mexico Supreme Court this week declined to consider an appeal from a developer who planned to build a Raton racino, but lost his state racing license and alleges the state Racing Commission acted improperly in declaring the license expired without acting on a request for revised race dates for what was supposed to be the inaugural season at La Mesa Racetrack and Casino in 2010.

The rejection of the writ of certiorari filed last month with the state’s high court — the writ asks the court to hear the case — is likely the end of the appeal process for Toronto-area developer Michael Moldenhauer, although he has 15 days from when the court’s decision was filed this past Monday to request that the court reconsider.

The Racing Commission at its meeting late next month is expected to discuss, and possibly take action, regarding the process for accepting applications for the license that was the subject of Moldenhauer’s appeals. A number of investment groups representing various locations throughout the state — including a new group eyeing Raton — have expressed interest in the license.

Moldenhauer’s quest to get the license restored to him began shortly after the Racing Commission in early 2011 agreed with a hearing officer that the license had expired at the end of 2010 — the year for which race dates were approved. The commission took no formal action because it decided none was necessary since the license had expired on its own.

Moldenhauer appealed to District Court in Raton and a judge sent the case to the New Mexico Court of Appeals, which was already considering Moldenhauer’s appeal of the revocation of his state gaming license that is also needed for a racino. The Court of Appeals upheld the New Mexico Gaming Control Board’s license-revocation decision and Moldenahuer did not appeal that court ruling, deciding instead to focus on the case involving the racing license, which must be in place before someone can seek a gaming license.

The Court of Appeals in March found that the Racing Commission should have issued a written order regarding the racing license’s expiration, but the court also found that without a written order, the court had nothing on which to hear an appeal. It also ruled that considering Moldenhauer’s claim against the commission for lack of action on his request for amended race dates in 2010 was “moot” and the court could “provide no actual remedy.”

In requesting the Supreme Court hear the case, Moldenhauer’s attorney argued that relief was possible if the court would “turn back the clock on its licenses and order the Commission to follow its own regulations and statues” that call for it to issue written decisions on matters such as the status of a license, as well as to act on requests such as the one for revised race dates. The written arguments submitted with the writ said, “So long as the Commission and Gaming Control Board treated La Mesa fairly and reasonably” from now forward, La Mesa “could move forward with its plans to build and operate a racetrack in Raton.”

The racing license that was awarded to Moldenhauer in late summer of 2008 and formally issued to him in early 2009 is the state’s sixth and final racing license currently available under an agreement the state has with Indian tribes who operate casinos on Indian lands in the state.

Racing Commission Executive Director Vince Mares said this week the commission did not address the issue of the license and the Supreme Court’s decision at the commission’s regular meeting Tuesday because the commission had not yet received documentation regarding the court decision. That was expected to be received soon and Mares said he anticipates the commission will discuss the matter of the final license at its meeting June 27 in Albuquerque.

The commission had been waiting for the court to decide on Moldenhauer’s writ before proceeding with opening an application period for the license. A court injunction had previously been in place prohibiting the commission from accepting and considering applications for the license while Moldenhauer’s appeal was being considered by the Court of Appeals.

A Range request for comment about the Supreme Court’s decision and whether La Mesa would ask the court to reconsider was received by a La Mesa spokesman Wednesday who said he would check with Moldenhauer for a response. The spokesman had not offered any response by the time The Range went to press Thursday afternoon.

The only development at the site of the planned $50 million racino — just south of Hereford Avenue and east of Interstate 25 — was a few years ago in the form of some initial ground and utility work and the erection of a large tent that was to house a temporary casino.

A separate group of investors from Texas and New Mexico has expressed interest in applying for the racing license in order to develop a Raton racino. Other groups have said they would seek the license, as well. Applications are expected from groups who want the license for sites in Tucumcari and Hobbs, although the Hobbs group has said it would use the license simply to expand the number of slot machines it has at its existing racino. Interest in the license has also been expressed by two other parties, one of whom envisions a racino in Lordsburg while the other considers one near Clovis.

The Sad State of Affairs When Charlie Hebdo Represents Western “Freedoms”

Has Western society really been reduced to publishing cartoons in the face of “terror?” The latest Charlie Hebdo magazine is out and, rather predictably, it portrays the prophet Mohammed on its cover:

Apparently, Mohammed’s face and that represent a penis and two testicles as do his eyes and nose.

17 people in all ended up losing their lives because of a cartoon.

For most Westerners, that’s pretty absurd. It seems we are trained, almost at birth, to not buy it if you don’t like it and not to go and murder the people who created it.

So there was a big protest march in Paris – and 40 world leaders attended – to show “unity” in the face of these murders. However the irony is that in almost any European nation verbally slandering someone (the cartoon, it can be argued is a “visual slander”) could easily result in a fine and even jail time – just not death.

So what were all these people really protesting?

They appeared to be protesting the fact that people were killed. Had they been issued fines and/or sent to jail for 30 days by the Government I seriously doubt we’d have seen the same result.

It strikes me as a tad insincere for European Government officials to march with the people – or for the people to march with their leaders – as they have voluntarily signed away their rights little-by-little since the end of WWII to say – and do – what they please.

Denying the Holocaust might be a vile thing but to punish someone for it?

If the message from the march in Paris is that freedom isn’t free why, then, are certain forms of censorship acceptable while others are not?

It is sad that these issues were not discussed before and it took a silly cartoon to have them brought up.

Here is another Charlie Hebdo cartoon… this time on gay marriage. It shows the Holy Spirit going up to Jesus’ rectum while he is having anal sex with God, his father.

Diamond liquidation in India

Ahead of the festive season in India, consumers have a bounty awaiting them in the form of huge discounts being offered on diamond jewelry. With British lender, Standard Chartered Bank slashing its exposure to the business, coupled with the Antwerp Diamond Bank going in for liquidation, a massive correction in prices of rough and polished diamonds is forecast by traders.

The end result – consumers could end up getting huge discounts, with diamond wholesalers attempting to offload their inventory.

While the Standard Chartered Bank is recalling its loans, aiming to reduce its exposure to the trade in India, it has also lowered its exposure to gold and bullion trade in India after a default by jewelry chain Winsome.

Vipul Shah, chairman of the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, said that the prices of both rough and polished diamonds would soften by around 10% to 20%, as demand was low and with the imminent changes, supply would increase further.

Manikbhai Dharmesh Sodia, another diamond trader said the liquidity crunch by the `biggies’ would force the sector to do away with their stock at a huge discount. “Though this might seem detrimental to Indian diamantaires in the short term, it might actually turn out to be rather beneficial in the long term, since it would filter out fly-by-night operators,” Soria said.

Traders said that ADB’s total global operations were worth around $1.6 billion, and roughly $1.2 billion worth was from Antwerp. The rest were spread across branches in other parts of the world, including Hong Kong and India. Of its total operations, about 60% was being serviced to diamond traders of Indian origin.

In India, ADB is learned to have had direct financing worth $200 million to $230 million through its Indian branch. With the possibility of ADB demanding a short window for repayments, an immediate liquidity crunch among diamond traders, especially those based out of Mumbai and Surat, was being feared.

US market trend

In the midst of all this, there is another problem confronting diamond exporters in India. Retailers said that unlike the past years, global buyers were now opting for ornaments in the mid-lower end of the spectrum, preferring lower purity gold and small diamonds, especially colored gems.

Though signs of an economic recovery in the US had led to hopes of a rebound in India’s gems and jewelry sales in the coming season, exporters have been very cautious. However, the liquidy crunch has now got them entangled in its tentacles. The demand for smaller diamonds was only adding to their woes.

“This year, we are receiving bulk orders from the US in the lower to a mid-end category, against higher-end in the previous years. While the actual growth in orders will be known only after a few weeks, we are hopeful this season will be better than last year,” said the Council’s Shah on an optimistic note.

The global festive season, stretching till the second week of February accounts for about 40% of global jewelry sales. As the US is the world’s largest gems and jewelry consumer (accounting for 38% of global annual demand), it is the most important market for global diamond ornament manufacturers and retailers.

While the US is on a recovery path, the European Union is showing signs of a slump. The US Federal Reserve has decided to phase out its quantitative programme by this year-end, raising the prospects of a rise in interest rates.

De Beers, the world’s largest rough diamond miner, has said that it expects global jewelry demand to rise in the long term. In 2013, global demand for diamond jewelry stood at a record $79 billion, according to the inaugural Diamond Insight Report, published by the De Beers Group.