Thursday, February 04, 2010

A sweetheart deal in Queens for a video casino (involving Darryl Greene) gets the Daily News and Post abuzz

The New York Daily News and the New York Post are quite exercised, not inappropriately, about the selection of Aqueduct Entertainment Group, which has ties to influential Queens Rev. (and former Congressman) Floyd Flake to run a video casino at Aqueduct Raceway.

They published editorials today decrying secret, sweetheart deals, big spending on lobbyists, and even ties to a controversial figure in minority contracting named Darryl Greene (whose company regularly works for Forest City Ratner).

Wouldja believe that all those things obtain for Atlantic Yards, notably the decision at the outset to direct the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's valuable Vanderbilt Yard to Forest City Ratner, 18 months before a truncated RFP was issued and attracted just one other bidder for what Chuck Ratner, CEO of Forest City Enterprises, calls "a great piece of real estate."

The news

In a Daily News article today headlined Gov. Paterson says he didn't like AEG for Aqueduct video casino, despite endorsing it points out that Aqueduct Entertainment Group was chosen "just days after Flake had left open the possibility of endorsing Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for governor" and that Paterson agreed to AEG to make peace with Senate President Malcolm Smith, who is close to Flake.

Another Daily News article, headlined Silver contradicts Paterson's claims he played no favorites in picking AEG to run slots at Aqueduct quotes Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver as contradicting Paterson's claims he played no favorites.

The article states:

The Daily News has learned that in addition to AEG's political connections, the group has had ties to several controversial figures.

...The consortium also lists Darryl Greene, a former business partner of Senate President Malcolm Smith and a protégé of Flake, as an investor. He was convicted in 1999 of stealing half a million dollars from city agencies.

In the Post yesterday, an article headlined Bettor wait a minute: GOPer tries to halt gov's 'sweetheart' slots dealstated:
Another investor in AEG, Darryl Greene of the Darman Group, who is a former business partner of Paterson chum and Senate President Malcolm Smith, a Flake protégé from southeastern Queens.

Greene was convicted in 1999 of stealing $500,000 from city agencies.
Editorials

In a Daily News editorial today headlined Bad smell at Aqueduct: State's racetrack deal stinks worse than the stable, the newspaper opined:
Silver immediately put conditions on his okay, hinting that AEG was not the highest bidder and had a crook on its payroll.

That and the company's inside connections to Sampson and Senate President Malcolm Smith strongly suggested it was rigged from the get-go.

...Even yesterday, the governor's office admitted that the Lottery Division had given low marks to AEG early on. But no one knows exactly why, because it won't make those documents public.

This doesn't even come close to the standards of competitive bidding and good government. The public can have no faith that this was a real effort, on the merits, to identify the best outfit to install and operate 4,500 video slots at Aqueduct.
A Post editorial headlined The fetid Aqueduct deal mentions Greene:
Among other things, the speaker insists that all key players have gaming licenses and no criminal record. That could be tough, sources say, for at least two AEG investors -- including partner Darryl Greene, once convicted of stealing $500,000 in city and private cash.

...The Post reported Sunday about what appears to be a tax-subsidized slush fund, called New Direction Local Development Corp., run by state Senate President Malcolm Smith, Rep. Gregory Meeks and others -- many with ties to the AEG deal.

...To that end, Senate GOP leader Dean Skelos is demanding a public hearing into the deal. He cites "reports about possible political considerations related to the selection of AEG."

Surely those hearings should be held before any deal goes forward, if only because this entire sordid process evolved in secrecy; it's crying for sunlight.
It's not the only one.

3 comments:

  1. Wow. If one were cynical, one might think that backrooms are the only places where deal are done in New York, and that reporting on these deals depends on who are making the deals and their relationships with the media.

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  2. Well, one important difference is that, with Atlantic Yards, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the governor(s) have been on the same side.

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  3. For some of our Noticing New York Thoughts about Ratner’s hiring Mr. Darryl E. Greene (a question we submitted which was not asked or answered at a Forest City Ratner Atlantic Yards public information meeting see the heading “Greene When It Comes To Numbers?” in the following post:

    Thursday, July 23, 2009
    The Hit and Miss of Last Night’s Public “Information” Meeting on Atlantic Yards

    http://noticingnewyork.blogspot.com/2009/07/hit-and-miss-of-last-nights-public.html

    See also the following AYR post:

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008
    Brutally weird: a CBA block party on Pacific Street in the AY footprint

    http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2008/06/brutally-weird-cba-block-party-on.html


    Michael D. D. White
    Noticing New York
    http://noticingnewyork.blogspot.com/

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