Owners of “Wandering Dago” Food Truck Sue NY State For First Amendment Violations

As the racing season in Saratoga was just about to heat up in July, another controversy was brewing outside the confines of the track. A food service truck named the “Wandering Dago” was being told to vacate the premises, despite having an approved permit to operate on the grounds.

The reason, according to the owners of the truck, was an unnamed state official who found the name offensive.

Despite requiring 30 days notice to take such actions, officials threatened the owners by telling them to leave the grounds or their truck would be towed the following morning.

While we were hoping the name of the state official would surface, the inevitable lawsuit seemed pretty straight forward.

So why would they insist on removing the Wandering Dago knowing full well that they were violating proper protocol by not providing 30 days advance notice? To cater to the thin-skinned state official?

Via the Times Union:

The question of whether the Wandering Dago will find a home on property controlled by the state might end up being settled in federal court.

The owners of the Schenectady-based food truck — as controversial for its name as it is beloved for its pulled-pork sandwiches — filed suit Tuesday against the New York Racing Association and the state Office of General Services. Brandon Snooks and Andrea Loguidice say they were unfairly bounced from a spot at Saratoga Race Course in July, two months after being denied a chance to sell their wares on Empire State Plaza.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Albany, names among its defendants NYRA’s new president and CEO, Christopher Kay; OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito; and Destito’s deputy, Joseph Rabito. The suit also names “John Does 1-5” — slots that could end up being occupied by high-ranking but so far anonymous state officials whom the suit describes as the real source of the Wandering Dago’s troubles.

Snooks and Loguidice insist they intended the truck’s name to be a tribute to the hardworking Italian-Americans of previous generations who toiled as day laborers. A recent online poll they conducted found clear majority support for retaining the name. Their critics, however, see “dago” as an unreconstructed ethnic slur.

The complaint cites first amendment violations of free speech as grounds for the lawsuit.


New York

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