Derby Field Set; I Want Revenge is Your Favorite

If you’re ready to start factoring in post position and the track’s odds as you ponder your Derby picks, it’s OK to get started.

Here’s the way the field stacks up.

The favorite is I Want Revenge, 3-1, in post 13. The sentimental favorite, General Quarters, is next to him in the 12th stall, and is 20-1. Early odds have both PioneeroftheNile and Dunkirk at 4-1, and Friesan Fire is at 5-1. The rest are 15-1 or higher.

Wayne Lukas’ Flying Private is on the extreme outside (which proved not to be a problem for Big Brown last year), while West Side Bernie got the last pick and is on the rail.

We’ll Always Have Paris

by Tom Johnson
Ville Voice Correspondent

One of the dirty little not-so-secrets of Derby Week is that a lot of the celebrities who come to town are getting paid to do so. We may imagine the ‘Ville to be the center of the world this week, and to those in the thoroughbred business it certainly is, but for celebrities Derby is as much about cash cows as it is fast horses.

The celebrity guest that has everyone talking this year is Paris Hilton, who will make appearances at both the Barnstable-Brown Party and the official Barnstable-Brown after party. The after party will be held at the just-opened Sports and Social Club in 4th Street Live. The Sports and Social Club is, of course, a collaboration between the Cordish Company, developer of 4th Street Live, and Mayor Jerry Abramson, who forked over almost $950,000 in taxpayer money to get the club remodeled and open in time for Derby.

Keep in mind that Paris Hilton isn’t worth as much as everyone assumes. Daddy’s billions are destined for a charitable foundation, and various estimates put Paris’s trust fund at between $20 million and $50 million. Assuming reasonable investment scenarios, and remembering that the last year hasn’t been kind to those living on investment income, her fortune throws off between $1-million and $4-million a year.

A lifestyle of private jets and top hotels can burn through that fast. If you think of Paris Hilton as a  business, and I guarantee that even if Paris doesn’t think of herself as a business, she has lots of people around her who do, she has to find ways to reduce costs and increase revenue, while preserving the Paris Hilton brand. It’s that last part that’s tricky. If you’re going to keep being Paris Hilton, you can’t secure your financial future by endorsing a K-Mart clothing line or marrying an elderly rich guy.

So Paris does what lots of celebrities do: she rents herself out for appearances at hi-glam media events. It’s a brilliant solution. She cuts costs by spending a few days living on someone else’s credit card, increases revenue by pocketing a big appearance fee, and reinforces her brand by showing up where the action is, at the wildest party (insert city name here) has ever seen.

Celebrity appearance fees are based on a complicated calculation that balances the publicity the celebrity will generate and the downside of failing to generate that publicity. If you’re opening a $10 million nightclub and your whole investment depends on not fizzling opening night, it’s worth a lot to have paparazzi-attracting celebrities strutting in through the front door.

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Not Getting It Done

Failure must be among the toughest concepts for our Mayor to accept. But it’s the only way to describe the three-months-and-counting effort to clean up from the January ice storm.

The city is paying Flynn Brothers Contracting more than $2 million to clean up storm debris, and according to its contract, is losing $500 a day since it missed its final deadline to be done on Sunday. City crews may be putting in long hours, but the job was too big for them.

Here in Jeffersontown, we haven’t yet seen any debris picker-uppers and streets around here feature piled-up sticks in a majority of front yards. Mayoral spokesperson Kerri Richardson says the city is “making a run at” getting finished before Saturday. She said work is done in 84 percent of collection zones.

Richardson said the $500 per day penalty will be figured into the final tally when it meets with Flynn Brothers once the work is completed.

According to this morning’s C-J, Flynn is getting $200 a ton and has collected 11,730 tones of debris thus far. I’ll do the math for you — that’s $2.35 million. So the $500 a day penalty seems like a meaningful consideration, but it’s not.

Mayor Abramson’s handling of the whole thing is just more ammo for his critics. Here we are at Derby time, still trying to clean up from a storm that happened in January. That he blew a few months negotiating with city workers is at the heart of today’s problem. Once he called in contractors, it was too late to get things finished.

Happy Halfway to Derby Day

Post Draw Today: Find out which horses get which numbers at today’s post position draw for the Derby. It takes place about Noon today at the track, NOT at Fourth Street Live as it has been for several years. ESPN decided it wasn’t good TV. You can watch in online or on local TV. I Want Revenge is the likely favorite.

QB Party: NFL quarterbacks must be becoming the gold standard for Derby party guests, and today we learn that the hated Tom Brady and others are signed on to the Barnstable Brown guest list, along with Paris Hilton. She’ll be at Fourth Street Live afterward for an official after-party. [Courier]

Big Drink: Brown-Forman is displaying a 6-foot Mint Julep glass over at the track. Why they’re doing press releases on this, we don’t know. [Brown-Forman]

Worker’s Complaint: WHAS-TV’s Joe Arnold found an arena worker willing to complain about the speed-em-up pace of construction, saying things aren’t safe on the site. He says Mortenson, the construction manager, is pushing too hard to stay on schedule. [WHAS-TV]

Sypher Can Speak: Yesterday a judge told Karen Sypher she can badmouth Rick Pitino all she wants and not get in trouble with the court. But her attorney says she’ll keep it zipped. We’ll see. [Fox41]

Bill vs. Blogger: The Fox41 G.M. thinks Perez Hilton’s a “blogging bully” for roughing it up with Miss California over same-sex marriage. [Fox41]

And His Name is Really Heil: Can you believe a PRP firefighter came to work in a Klan outfit? That’s the allegation that got Capt. Robert Heil suspended without pay. Can you say “R E D N E C K”? A resident interviewed by WLKY’s Mike Petchenik said she hopes it doesn’t hurt PRP’s reputation. [WLKY]

TARC vs. Miller: Officials with TARC are (wink, wink) quick to say that the free rides they’re offering Friday night aren’t meant to infringe on Miller Transportation’s exclusive agreement to shuttle patrons around the track. Nope, the fact that Miller raised prices and is using inferior buses (compared with service TARC had provided since 1947 before a federal ruling changed things) has nothing to do with the Miller/Coors promotion of free rides on Friday. [Courier]

Who Really Started the PRP Retaliation Rumors?

Last Friday, more than 500 people showed up at an abandoned Kmart on Dixie Highway, forking over $20 donations in support of embattled football coach Jason Stinson. There was an auction of donated items, and the take was more than $35,000. I’m told it was an enthusiastic and supportive crowd.

There was no media coverage, though it would have been quite a spectacle for the evening news.

The next day, the local paper ran a story that accused Stinson supporters of attempting to intimidate or retaliate against students whose testimony might be damaging to the coach. The suggestion that this was going on was first made during a deposition of JCPS superintendant Sheldon Berman. Todd Thompson, who represents Max Gilpin’s parents in their lawsuit against PRP coaches and administrators, asked Berman if he was aware that threats were being made against players.

Thompson, then, is the only source in the story who is on the record saying that retaliation has gone on. Berman didn’t know about it, and the Commonwealth’s attorney’s office spokesman, Steve Tedder, told the C-J that he had heard it was going on, without saying where he’d heard it. From Thompson maybe?

And the paper claims that unnamed parents have been calling and making the same retaliation accusations that Thompson first brought up in Berman’s deposition.

We’ve talked with several people close to the situation in Pleasure Ridge Park who are doubtful about the existence of the retaliation threats mentioned in the newspaper article. They believe it’s a media ploy by Thompson. We hear that parents aren’t interested in talking with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office about the retaliation threats, that they’re not answering phone calls.

One interested parent of a player (who also would not go on the record) said he knows all of the players’ parents who live in PRP, and says none would call the newspaper if the retaliation threats were going on.

If there have been threats, it’s time that Thompson, or the C-J, or the Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ office, fess up and identify the source.

Sheldon Berman and the Appearance of Impropriety

It’s weird to have three middle school principals and others contact us for background information about anything. But that’s exactly what happened.

Turns out Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Sheldon Berman asked school principals to contact members of the Board of Education to voice their support for him. Why? Because the Board is scrutinizing his role on/with outside boards and companies. And because some bloggers are giving him trouble.

So let’s examine things again…

CLICK HERE to read the rest of the story…

Heartless Move by Clear Channel

If you weren’t yet convinced that Clear Channel is a heartless corporation, how about this news —  the radio station owner chose the middle of Derby week as the ideal time to reduce its workforce, again, by letting go seven staff members.

Two staffers in accounting, two in traffic, a program director and even the receptionist were given their walking papers today.

And a little gift for those who still have jobs — Clear Channel discontinued the matching of employees’ 401K.