Speculators say the NY Times's Paterson scoop has to do with drugs, swinger parties or some combination of the two, but as scandals pile up, it seems like the news could have to do with 4,500 video slot machines planned for a racetrack in Queens. In a move that by some accounts "smacked of favoritism" Gov. Paterson awarded the project to a company that operates a shabby casino in Elko, Nevada. Now, sources say, Paterson is "paranoid" and lashing out at aids over the corrupt-looking gambling deal. According to one insider, "He sits gnashing his teeth, looking around for scapegoats among the people around him. He's lecturing them, launching into tirades, and he's demoralized the entire staff in the process."
The Queens "racino" project—that could bring in as much as $6 billion a year for the state—was awarded to Aqueduct Entertainment Group, a politically connected company that beat out more reputable competitors like MGM Mirage and Hard Rock Entertainment. A NY Post piece took a look at AEG's other casino, in a backwoods town that admittedly is "nothing like New York." "This is a casino that might have been in Vegas—in the 1970s," said one employee, who works at the Elko casino's Starbucks.
Still, some people have nice things to say about AEG, for instance influential former congressman Rev. Floyd Flake who owns shares in the company. According to the Daily News, Flake "insisted the company beat out other bidders to win the racino deal fair and square—and he touted the project as a godsend that will bring much-needed jobs to the community." Many see Gov. Paterson's choice of AEG as a blatant attempt to win Flake's support in the upcoming gubernatorial race.
More drama arrived today when one of AEG's top officials resigned suddenly. The selection of the company was contingent on background checks of its employees, and it turned out that Darryl Greene, head of Darman Group, was convicted in 1999 of defrauding city agencies. The Post says he owed nearly a million in state taxes, and his wife owed $19,681 in personal income taxes.
With all of that to chew on, who needs a Times expose? "The truth is that Paterson made the Aqueduct decision with a blatant disregard for the smartest people around him," said an insider. A source close to Paterson tells New York that the Times's "bombshell" story "is PG-13, not XXX. Not to say it won't be problematic, but the Aqueduct situation? That's potentially criminal. On his extramarital affairs, the question is who those people are, and what jobs they've held."