OTB Followed the Correct Law in Negotiating Buyouts

By Tony Farina

Despite calls for an investigation by the state attorney general of buyouts recently approved for three top leaders of the highly successful Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., including president and CEO Henry Wojtaszek, Board Chairman Dennis Bassett said the severance packages approved by the board are on solid legal ground. And he was firm in his commitment not to allow politics to guide the search for a new CEO.

Bassett, from Rochester, one of the two member cities along with 15 counties of the public benefit corporation that is WROTB, told The Batavian newspaper there will be no political considerations in searching for a CEO to replace Henry Wojtaszek who despite the corporation’s enormous success has been targeted by his political enemies for much of his 15 years leading WROTB.

Wojtaszek, a Republican from North Tonawanda, will receive his full salary of $299,000 when he leaves at the end of the year and CFO Jackie Leach will leave early next year, after 36 years on the job, with a $122,000 buyout, half of her salary. The board approved a severance package of $87,000 for William White, vice president of administration when he leaves next April.

Bassett said the buyouts were approved by the board’s in-house counsel and also by Terry Connors, WROTB’s lawyer and one of the leading attorneys in the state.

I asked Connors about the calls for a state investigation and he sent me the following statement:

“When Assembly member Wallace made her public statement that OTB was only permitted to provide limited severance payments to its executives, OTB asked me to review the issues.  While I have great respect for Assembly member Wallace, our review suggests she was wrong and cited an inapplicable statue.  Nevertheless, OTB will cooperate with any agency that wishes to review the severance payments.”

Short and sweet, Connors is saying Wallace cited the wrong law and OTB is on solid legal ground in its approval of the buyouts.

In responding to a questions about politics in the search for a new CEO, Board Chairman Bassett, from Rochester, elaborated on rejecting political considerations for a new leader, including if a candidate is a member of a political party, saying that would not be a part of the search process.

Bassett said “we are looking for people who can take Western OTB to the next level.  Henry Wojtaszek is on the right side of the aisle, and I am on the left side of the aisle.  I have the utmost respect for Henry Wojtaszek and the way he ran this organization.  We are looking for solid business people.

Niagara County Republican legislator Chris Voccio told the Gazette WROTB’s “record profits” under Wojtaszek have been great for member municipalities and he hopes the new leadership can continue to produce the same strong results.

WROTB under Wojtaszek’s leadership has returned millions every year to the member 15 counties and two cities that benefit from a significant portion of the ever-growing revenue produced every year by the public benefit corporation.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
.wpzoom (color:black;}