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Monday, April 02, 2007

Fall From Grace

- Just a couple of months ago, Steve Swindal was preparing for today's Yankees season opener as the prospective Boss-to-be of America's most famous sports franchise; and was heading up the leading bidder (at least according to the Ad Hoc Committee) for what promises to be the incredibly lucrative franchise of New York racing and VLT's.

Talk about a sudden fall from grace. Swindal is now out of a job, out of the Steinbrenner will, out of the franchise race, and completely out of the money. Excelsior announced that Swindal and the rest of the Steinbrenner family have pulled out of the group.

"The Steinbrenner family and all of their related entities have withdrawn from the Excelsior bid," [Yankees] spokesman Howard Rubenstein said in a statement issued yesterday. "The reason is to pursue other opportunities." [Newsday]
Swindal's slide started in mid-February when he was arrested on DUI charges in Florida. But considering that he was apparently on his way to sleep on his boat in the middle of the night, it's quite possible that the incident was a symptom of his marital troubles rather than the cause.

Excelsior says they will carry on. "Our bid is continuing as planned," Excelsior spokeswoman Katie Burke said. "There are going to be some considerable changes in the next few days." [Albany Times Union] That's for sure. The Steinbrenners owned a 47.5% stake in Excelsior; whatsmore, real estate giant Tishman-Speyer, a 5% stakeholder, has dropped out as well. Spokesperson Ms. Burke said that the company is excited about the presentation we are about to make to the panel.” [NY Times] But they only have a bit more than a week to assemble a new team. I wonder if Richard Fields has Steve Wynn's number in his rolodex?

Whatever eventually happens, we can be sure that the decision will be made behind closed doors. Despite all of Governor Spitzer's talk about a new era in Albany, the state budget agreed upon this weekend was done so in a veil of secrecy that, according to observers, was unprecedented even for Albany. The New York Times noted:
But almost immediately after the final vote, the governor’s staff and the Legislature began to dispute what was written in the most contentious portion of the budget — education — underscoring the secretive nature of the negotiations that led to thousands of pages of legislation.
New York Post columnist Fredric U. Dicker wrote in an open letter to the Governor:
The Soviet-style secrecy that defined the budget talks - along with your willingness to use "messages of necessity" to assure that neither individual lawmakers nor the public would know what was in the budget - stole the breath away from your most loyal reform-minded supporters.
So while the presentations will be presented in public on April 10 and 11, the actual decision making will be done in the usual Albany way. The winner and losers may have to read the details in the Daily Racing Form.