2009-10-23 / Top Stories

Aqueduct Decision Close, State Senator Says

By Howard Schwach

Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park sits right on major roads used by Rockaway residents to access the mainland. Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park sits right on major roads used by Rockaway residents to access the mainland. The end of a long and contentious bidding cycle to see who gets to put more than 2,500 video gambling terminals at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park may be in sight, according to State Senator Joseph P. Adda b bo Jr. According to Addabbo, who once represented Rockaway in the City Council, a decision should be made by the end of October. "If I had to estimate [when the decision by Governor David Pater - son] would be made, I would guess that it would be the third or fourth week of October," he told reporters last week. "As far as I know, the Governor has enough information to make a decision, and that decision may have already been made, but they may just be waiting for an announcement."

Although the law requires that the State Legislature makes the final choice, in reality, the choice will be made by three men - Governor Pat - erson, State Senator John Samp son, who heads the Democratic Confe rence, and Assembly Speaker Shel don Silver, insiders say. Queens political activists told The Wave last week that the bid process to provide the gambling "Racino" at Aqueduct is rigged in favor of one of the strongest political and religious leaders in the city - the Reve - rend Floyd Flake, who once served as the area's congressman. Flake has close ties to one of the consortiums bidding for the multi-million dollar project, the Aqueduct Entertain ment Group (AEG).

One of AEG's several partners, insiders say, is the Em pow erment Develop - ment Group, foun ded by Flake, who is the spiritual leader of the massive Allen AME Church in Jamaica.

One Queens Democratic insider, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, said, "Flake has close ties to State Senate President Pro Tem Malcolm Smith, who is a deacon in the church. He has close ties to Congress - man Greg Meeks, who took his seat when Flake left Congress. He also has close ties to [Governor] Paterson and his father, Basil."

The insider added, "A few weeks ago, Paterson said that the AEG Group was not qualified to bid because one of the partners had a mark on his record. This week, Paterson announ ced, without explanation, that AEG could bid on the project. What else can anybody believe but that politics is in play?"

Another insider, who also asked not to be identified, added that Paterson had made promises to Flake, and that he was now prepared to make good on those promises by giving AEG the project.

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