NYDailyNews.com
23°F / New York

Weather in NYC

23°F Forecast Traffic

Monday, February 8, 2010
LocalAqueduct Raceway racino bidders who lost out to AEG slam Gov. Paterson over shady slots deals

Aqueduct Raceway racino bidders who lost out to AEG slam Gov. Paterson over shady slots deals

Friday, February 5th 2010, 4:00 AM

Bidders describe a chaotic, confusing process in seeking the contract for racino at Aqueduct Raceway.
Pace for News
Bidders describe a chaotic, confusing process in seeking the contract for racino at Aqueduct Raceway.
The entrance to Aqueduct Raceway.
Pace for News
The entrance to Aqueduct Raceway.

ALBANY - Albany's twisted and shady dealings were laid bare Thursday night as the scandal surrounding the bidding to run the Aqueduct racino mushroomed.

Furious bidders who lost out to politically connected Aqueduct Entertainment Group told how a rudderless and chaotic selection system made a mockery of the course.

Businesses who wanted to win the right to run video slot machines at the racetrack told how Gov. Paterson and his crew behaved "exactly like they were making the process up as they went along," said James Featherstonhaugh.

Featherstonhaugh, a principle for another bidder, Delaware North, revealed the high stakes efforts to score the racetrack deal detoured into silliness because Paterson never made clear what he wanted.

"It's hard to describe the process," Featherstonhaugh laughed. "It has been so fluid."

As the months went on, the proceedings became "looser and looser and more extemporized," the veteran Albany lobbyist explained.

He insisted the whole deal was screwed up from the moment bidders entered the starting gate.

When Paterson's office first solicited bids last spring, six interested groups responded. Unlike many state contracts, the bids were not binding - and the guv's team kept demanding they be retooled.

At least twice, Featherstonhaugh and other bidders said, Paterson's counsel asked each group for their "best and last offers."

"The first time, they said specifically make your best offer [because] once they're in, we're going to pick from these and there will be no more changes."

The bidders complied, but then, "without making a formal announcement, they again extemporaneously began accepting changes from bidders across the board."

Paterson, looking to raise money for the cash-strapped state, once even asked bidders to guarantee at least $200 million upfront.

With all the tweaking and tinkering requested by Team Paterson, bidding dragged into the new year - and was so bizarre, Featherstonhaugh said he'd never seen anything like it in his 40 years in Albany.

"Nothing comes close," he said.

All the while, Paterson ignored recommendations from some of his top aides, sources said, and appeared to be keeping his own counsel. They said the governor was lobbied directly by some bidders - a charge Paterson aides denied.

Eric Shippers, senior vice president for Penn National Gaming, which also lost out on the project, said his company is licensed in 15 jurisdictions in North America and has never experienced bidding shenanigans like the one anchored in Albany.

Previous Page 12 Next Page

Related Topics

Ads by Yahoo!

EDITORS' PICKS

Shocker as Obama says city's STILL in running  for 9/11 venue

Shocker as Obama says city's STILL in running for 9/11 venue

The feds may still try the 9/11 terror thugs near Ground Zero.

Brees, Saints stun Colts to capture Super Bowl

Brees, Saints stun Colts to capture Super Bowl

The Saints dominated the fourth quarter and pulled out 31-17 victory over the Colts.

Notes come in handy for Palin during Tea Party speech in Nashville

Notes come in handy for Palin during Tea Party speech in Nashville

Sarah Palin gave Democrats an unexpected gift.

Dad of slain son says Gigi Jordan felt 'helpless'

Dad of slain son says Gigi Jordan felt 'helpless'

Still reeling over his ex-wife's arrest for killing son, he had one question: Why?

Ex-NYPD captain: Why I bent crime stats

Ex-NYPD captain: Why I bent crime stats

I definitely know the pressure every precinct commander feels to keep crime down.

Will it be Madam Governor?

Will it be Madam Governor?

"Manhattan Madam" Kristin Davis tossing her lacy brassiere into the political ring.

BEST OF NYDN.COM

Brittany Murphy's last words: 'Mom, I'm dying'

Brittany Murphy's last words: 'Mom, I'm dying'

Murphy's mom and husband gave emotional interviews with Larry King.

PHOTOS: NFL Super Bowl cheerleaders lock pom-poms

PHOTOS: NFL Super Bowl cheerleaders lock pom-poms

When Colts and Saints ladies face off, everyone's a winner.

FIRST LOOK: 2010 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue

FIRST LOOK: 2010 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue

PHOTOS: Model Hilary Rhoda just one of the bathing beauties in upcoming edition.

Hottest wives and girlfriends in sports

Hottest wives and girlfriends in sports

PHOTOS: Kim Kardashian and Kendra Wilkinson's beaus battle it out at Super Bowl.

Bridezilla alert!  900 brides-to-be swarm NYC

Bridezilla alert! 900 brides-to-be swarm NYC

A horde of brides bent on finding the perfect gown go on frenzied bargain hunt.

PHOTOS: Gotham's greatest graffiti

PHOTOS: Gotham's greatest graffiti

Love it or hate it, graffiti is New York's original art form. Here, our favorite works.

MOST POPULAR

Daily News Pix Manhattan

Get a historic
Daily News picture of iconic Manhattan moments and locations. Click
Here to Order.

Black History Month Pix

Celebrate Black History Month by owning a legendary Daily News photo. Click Here to
See More.

BUY TICKETS TODAY

Get tickets to the upcoming game, show or event here.