Within a few days of Philadelphia telling the Supreme Court it would be happy to give HSP Gaming a foundation permit it seeks to start building SugarHouse Casino, the casino fired back saying the city oversimplified the situation and ignored several other claims.
HSP Gaming sought in early January to have the state Supreme Court enforce a December 2007 ruling it made requiring the city to stop stalling in granting the casino necessary applications to build. In a request to supplement its response to the casino’s petition, the city of Philadelphia argued Mayor Michael Nutter personally offered in a meeting with HSP Gaming officials to ensure the permit was available to be picked up that day. They said HSP Gaming ignored several chances to pick it up.
In its response in opposition to the city’s filing, HSP Gaming said disputes still remain over the foundation permit, and there are several other approvals needed by the city that it has yet to make.
“The city’s arguments with respect to the foundation permit are based upon outright and blatant misrepresentations to this court,” HSP Gaming said in its filing. “On Dec. 16, 2008 – the same day that the city claims (and HSP Gaming denies) that [Keating Consulting executive Terrence] McKenna informed the city that HSP Gaming did not want the foundation permit – McKenna received an e-mail from the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections stating the L&I had no record on file of HSP Gaming’s application for a foundation permit.”
HSP Gaming said the first it heard that it could get the permit was in the city’s Jan. 22, 2009, filing in response to the company’s application for relief.
The city argued in its filings that HSP Gaming didn’t want to take the permit because it wanted the court to rule on its other request in the application for relief – the appointment of a special master to oversee any subsequent disputes between the parties. The city said HSP is using the application as a "springboard" so that a special master could control any future litigation.
HSP Gaming doesn’t quite see it that way.
“As is obvious from the rhetoric in the city’s response, the city is desperate to forestall the appointment of a special master for the SugarHouse Casino project because that would lay bare all of the details of the city’s acknowledged campaign of obstruction and force prompt resolutions of the delays,” HSP Gaming said in its motion in opposition.
The casino said in the motion that the Feb. 6 meeting between the mayor and HSP Gaming officials was not for reconciliation but to “manufacture arguments” the city hoped would help avoid the appointment of a special master. It also said the officials were under the impression that the meeting was confidential.
According to the motion in opposition, HSP Gaming said it received a letter from L&I the day after the meeting that said its application for a foundation permit was under review and someone would contact the company about it by early March.
All of these recent developments, HSP Gaming argued, highlight the need for the appointment of a special master.
“We are not clear whether they have the application, whether it is under review, or whether it is available for pickup,” SugarHouse spokeswoman Leigh Whitaker said in an e-mail. “We are clear, however, that the conflicting information we have received from the city is part of the city’s continued effort to thwart our development in violation of the Court’s December 3, 2007 Order and underscores the need for the appointment of a special master.”
By Gina Passarella - Senior Staff Reporter