Aqueduct Racino Debacle Uncovers Another Astonishing Relationship
Believe it or not, all those Aqueduct Racetrack headlines conceal a touching story of reconciliation and forgiveness that no one has noticed. The story either proves that time, or plausible profit, heals all wounds, or it shatters the notion that blood is thicker than water.
Roberto Ramirez is representing real estate titan Stephen Green, a bidder for the Aqueduct deal.
If your memory reaches back as far as the hotly contested mayoral election of 2001, when Mike Bloomberg beat Stephen Green's brother Mark Green, you just choked on that sentence.
Green's campaign manager publicly blamed the loss on Ramirez, who was then the Bronx Democratic boss and is today an influential lobbyist close to the Paterson administration and the Democratic legislative leadership. Ramirez despised Green for defeating his candidate in the Democratic run-off, Fernando Ferrer, and, oddly for a Democratic leader, threw a victory party in the Bronx celebrating Bloomberg's win.
The racially-charged tensions between Ramirez and the Greens -- Stephen, the city's largest commercial landlord, helped finance Mark's campaign -- were legendary.
But last October, SL Green Realty Corporation signed an agreement with Ramirez's lobbying firm, MirRam Group LLC, "to provide legislative and strategic counsel" with state officials. The purpose of the lobbying is "racing and wagering." SL Green and Hard Rock International combined to submit a bid for the racetrack's video slots, potentially the state's biggest contract, but lost recently when the governor and the two legislative leaders picked another politically-wired bidder.
So many questions about the award have been raised that the process may have to be reopened.
Asked about the irony of his brother's representation by Ramirez, all Mark Green would say is: "I have nothing to do with the SL Green-Aqueduct bid." Stephen Green and Ramirez didn't call back. Mark Green lost the race for public advocate last year and has retired from politics.
Ramirez has been included in the most intimate strategy sessions organized by the Paterson campaign inner circle. These meetings have sometimes been hosted by Bill Lynch, who was, until recently, another lobbyist for SL Green. The Post reported recently that Green dropped Lynch, who apparently arranged a post-selection meeting between Paterson and the winning bidder (Green is challenging the award of the contract). Though not as voluble as Ramirez, Lynch, too, was disaffected from the Green campaign after Ferrer's loss. Many observers, including Bloomberg's campaign manager at the time, Bill Cunningham, said Bloomberg would not have won had Ramirez and other leading minority Democrats supported Green.