04/13/2010 12:00AM

N.Y. lawmakers back casino plan


A coalition of Republican lawmakers in New York on Tuesday urged the state's Democratic leaders to support legislation that would seek to name an operator for a long-stalled casino at Aqueduct racetrack within the next two months.

Three Republican senators - Marty Golden of Brooklyn, Roy McDonald of Saratoga, and Betty Little of Queensbury - appeared on Tuesday with Assemblyman Tony Jordan of Jackson to call attention to a bill introduced by Golden on March 23. The bill would reserve the selection of the casino operator to the state's Democratic leaders but require that bids be evaluated by a third-party accounting firm and that public hearings be held before the final selection.

Currently, Gov. David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and the temporary president of the Senate, Malcolm Smith, have the sole power to select the casino operator.

Earlier this year, the state's Democratic leadership selected Aqueduct Entertainment Group, a sprawling, politically connected partnership, to operate the casino. The selection fell apart after the state's lottery division contended it could not issue a license to several of the group's principals amid inquiries being conducted by the state's inspector general.