Top Cuomo Aide Complained About ‘Wandering Dago’ Food Truck, Led To Lawsuit Against 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.

That state official has been revealed during court proceedings, and of course it’s a bleeding heart aide to Governor Cuomo who shed the initial tears over the food truck’s name.

Via the Times Union:

ALBANY — Bennett Liebman, Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s deputy secretary for gaming and racing, was identified Thursday as the state official whose July 19 e-mail to the New York Racing Association resulted in the Wandering Dago lunch truck being bounced from the Saratoga Race Course the next morning.

Liebman’s 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 lawsuit brought by the controversially named fusion barbecue truck’s owners. They are suing NYRA as well as the state Office of General Services, which in May denied the truck’s application to sell its food on the Empire State Plaza, citing its name among the reasons for the rejection.

“I’m sure that the name of this particular food truck at the track is designed to be self-deprecating, but there’s a food truck at the track from Schenectady known as the Wandering Dago,” Liebman wrote.

“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. Is there any way to at least modify the name of this particular truck? I see this as a problem waiting to blow up.”

What makes the lawsuit against NYRA more compelling is that the Wandering Dago followed proper procedure to get licensed for business at the Saratoga Race Course.

Then, despite requiring 30 days notice to take action against the business, officials threatened the owners by telling them to leave the grounds or their truck would be towed the following morning.

The eventual lawsuit was 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?

One remaining question remains:  Did Liebman do this at the behest of Governor Cuomo, or did he overreact on his own volition?

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