Ex-Gov. David Paterson Says Hofstra Barred Him Over Casino Rift

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Las Vegas Sands Vice President David Paterson. The former New York governor said he was barred from Hofstra University because of his support of a Long Island casino. (Image: Spectrum News)

Sands is the gaming company seeking to build a casino hotel at the site of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, which is near Hofstra. The university vehemently opposes that effort and has used New York courts to thwart the plan.

Paterson told Carl Campanile of the New York Post that he was invited to participate in a congressional panel at Hofstra. But the school blocked his attendance because of his employment with Sands. The former governor added that members of some mostly Black groups that support the casino plan were discriminated against and mistreated by the college.

Paterson, who is New York’s first, and to date, only Black governor, told the Post that he had no intention of discussing the Long Island casino proposal at the panel.

His allegations emerged just days after New York State Supreme Court Justice Sarika Kapoor ruled for the second time since last November that the Coliseum lease transfer agreement between Nassau County and Sands was invalid because it violated New York’s open meeting laws and the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process.

Barring Paterson Bad Look

Hofstra says inclusions and belonging “are central” to its mission and that allegations of discrimination aren’t accurate.

Governor Paterson is an esteemed alumnus of Hofstra University, and he continues to be welcome on our campus as a visitor or panelist. Hofstra has already approved the congressional forum event, at which Governor Paterson is to be a panelist.  Hofstra does not cosponsor events with casino, alcohol or tobacco companies or the like,” according to a statement issued by the school to the Post.

Assuming Paterson’s allegations are accurate, it’s a bad look for Hofstra on multiple fronts. Not only is February Black History Month, but banning the former governor from a campus emerged barely more than a month after troubling rumors surfaced. Those indicated that the university may have been in contact with representatives of Hard Rock International, the Tribal gaming giant that wants to build an integrated resort in Queens.

On a coincidental and ironic note, Hofstra’s famous alumni, in addition to Paterson, include “Godfather” director Francis Ford Coppola, star James Caan (Sonny Corleone), and real-life mobster Michael Franzese, a former capo in the Colombo crime family.

Bad Look for Hofstra Part II

Potentially compounding the public relations woes for Hofstra is one other detail. NAACP Long Island head Tracey Edwards, who also works for Sands, claimed that nonprofit and minority groups that have received contributions from Sands have been barred from Hofstra’s campus.

It is a clear and open act of discrimination against one of your most distinguished alumni and the regional leader of the NAACP New York State Conference, an organization that fights for the equality and inclusion of all people,” wrote Edwards and Paterson in a letter to Hofstra board of trustees Chairman Daniel Schaeffer.

The two added that Hofstra has resorted to “school yard bully” tactics while calling the university’s alleged discrimination “heartbreaking.”

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