District 5: Micah Kellner, Wine Salesman and Derby Tout

Last month City Council Watch brought you the story of Assemblymember Micah Kellner and his vigorous efforts on behalf of the Vehicle Production Group and its miracle taxi.  (In case you missed it, the New York Post recapped it yesterday.)  To refresh your memories, Kellner was given more than $20,000 upon completion of his favorable testimony before the TLC.  Unfortunately, things went sour for VPG, and it isn’t likely that much more money will be flowing from that company to the Kellner campaign, now that the government has seized its remaining assets.

However, Micah Kellner made sure to cover his bets, and has brought his dedication to product placement to the service of several other industries.  For example, Kellner has agitated for an end to New York State’s prohibition of the sale of wine in grocery stores.  In 2009 Micah Kellner wrote an editorial for the Buffalo News in which he spoke of allowing supermarkets to sell wine as a “sacred responsibility.”

In 2010 Kellner brandished a “smoking gun” which, he claimed, proved that liquor manufacturer Diageo had improperly worked on behalf of liquor stores trying to preserve their franchise.

In 2011 Kellner, citing a study by “New Yorkers for Economic Growth and Open Markets,” a coalition of wine producers and the food industry, called allowing grocery stores to sell wine “the ultimate win-win-win.”

In 2012 Kellner wrote to the New York Times that the inability to buy wine in supermarkets is the supreme “inconvenience” for New Yorkers.

Here is what he got: $21,600 in NYS and NYC donations from grocery store owners and lobbyists.  Kellner received money from Devon Fredericks and William Wachtel (Zabar family spouses); John Catsimatidis (Gristedes); Howard Glickberg (Fairway); Daniel Wegman (Wegman’s); Whole Foods; Joni Yoswein (New Yorkers for Economic Growth and Open Markets); and a variety of wine and beer wholesalers around the city.

Another good fight that Micah Kellner has been waging is the restoration of Off-Track Betting in bars and restaurants.  Horseplayers and simple devotees of the sport of kings apparently have been at a loss since the last OTB closed its doors.  We read:

Using the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands to make his point, New York Assemblyman Micah Kellner, who represents Manhattan, railed on officials for not moving to offer offtrack betting at bars and restaurants in New York City…

“How is it that New York is such a bad bookie that we can’t make a buck on Derby day?” Kellner said in a May 5 release. “On the day of the most famous race in the country, New York has to get back on the horse. The New York Racing, Wagering and Gaming Commission, with its stalling, is forcing not only the hardcore handicapper but the casual Kentucky Derby fan to scratch from the race.”

Did anyone else know that the Kentucky Derby is now officially called “the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands?”  I didn’t.  But I bet that Micah Kellner does, as he received $4000 in donations from Yum! Brands between 2010 and 2012.

Incidentally, the only other politician to get money in that period from Yum! Brands was Governor Cuomo, and he only got $1000.  Micah isn’t cheap, but he works hard.

So it is good to know that Micah Kellner is on the front lines, working to ensure that New Yorkers can buy a pint of Thunderbird at the local grocery store, put it in their pockets, and then head over to the nearest bar and blow the milk money on the ponies.