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Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is taking a stronger hand to try to force action on the controversial lottery contract that’s languished since spring, awaiting council approval amid questions about numbers vendors old and new.
The first salvo was when Acting Attorney General Peter J. Nickles broached the contract at a recent meeting between the full council and the mayor. Nickles’ advocacy on behalf of proposed new vendors W2I was met, LL is told, with a “wall of silence.”
Now Fenty has included the lottery contract in his proposal to close the $131 million fiscal 2009 budget gap projected by Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi. A summary of the plan distributed to reporters yesterday reiterates what Nickles told the council: “Over a multiyear period, lottery proceeds…remain stagnant even as total lottery revenues have reached record highs….Additionally, the current vendor [Lottery Technology Enterprises] has suffered at least one unprecedented breach in security of its system.”
Most fascinatingly, a familiar Fenty friend has been rallying council support for the W2I contract in recent weeks.
LL has learned that Tom Lindenfeld, the political consultant who did as much as anyone to put Fenty into the mayor’s office, has approached at least three councilmembers’ offices on behalf of the contract, in what Lindenfeld says is his first-ever lobbying gig.
“I think it’s in the best interest of the District, and I think we’re going to be able to save some money and [get a system] that won’t be hacked into,” he says.
Lindenfeld says he expects a paycheck for his advocacy, which will probably come from the W2I partnership between Warren and Alaka Williams‘ W2Tech and Greek vendor Intralot. (He also says he’ll be filing the necessary lobbying disclosure papers, too.)
Lindenfeld’s a guy with a lot on his plate the next few weeks, between helping Barack Obama win Pennsylvania and salvaging Carol Schwartz‘ write-in campaign. And make no mistake: Convincing Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray to allow a vote on the contract will be at least as hard as that other stuff.
Lindenfeld declines to say whether the mayor personally asked him to go to bat for the contract, saying only this: “I wouldn’t do anything that doesn’t help the mayor.”