Skip to main content

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.

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.

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

    ReplyDelete
  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/

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

"There is no alternative": DM Glen on de Blasio's affordable housing strategy

As I've written, Mayor Bill de Blasio sure knows how to steer and spin coverage of his affordable housing initiatives.

Indeed, his latest announcement, claiming significant progress, came with a pre-press release op-ed in the New York Daily News and then a friendly photo-op press conference with an understandably grateful--and very lucky--winner of an affordable housing lottery.

To me, though, the most significant quote came from Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who, as the Wall Street Journal reported:
said public housing had been “starved” of federal support for years now, leaving the city with fewer ways of creating affordable housing. “Are we relying too heavily on the private sector?” she said. “There is no alternative.” Though Glen was using what she surely sees as a common-sense phrase, it recalls the slogan of a politician with whom I doubt de Blasio identifies: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative who believed in free markets.

It suggests the limits to …