wandering dago

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ALBANY, NY – 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 Loguidicesay 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 owners are represented by Albany attorney George Carpinello of the high-profile firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner — and yes, he’s of Italian descent (“on both sides”).

“We live in a society with robust speech,” Carpinello said, “and you’re going down a slippery slope when you allow public officials to say ‘I’m going to ban this because a certain segment of society finds it offensive.'”

Carpinello, a former Albany Law School professor who in 2008 was shortlisted as a candidate to become the state’s chief judge, has handled similar cases involving businesses that pushed the boundaries of good taste. He represented a brewer that had run afoul of New York state regulators for marketing Bad Frog Beer, which bore a label showing an amphibian giving a familiar one-fingered salute. A similar case in Massachusetts involved a distributor that was selling Bad Elf Beer and Santa’s Butt Winter Porter.

Find the entire article by Casey Seiler at timesunion.com <here>