Stamina Required for Derby Week

We feel like we just ran the Mini, but the week ahead requires extra stamina. As if it were a full week of weekend. And if you’re working, you know to get everything done early this week, because nothing gets accomplished around here Thursday and Friday. Commonwealth’s attorney’s office staffers get the whole week off…furloughed.

Saturday we were amazed at the crowd at Captains Quarters for Mark Hebert’s going-away party, a bash attended by news personnel from every local station, ex-TV folks and even a Congressman.

We’ve got plenty of catching up to do on news, like the Sypher arrest, the C-J’s latest odd story on PRP football, and the continued inefficiency of Metro Corrections. And we’ll be talking this week about our Derby activities.

So let’s get this party started, beginning with….

Out of the Can, Sort Of: Some of that infamous interview with Karen Sypher made it into a Fox41 story over the weekend, after the FBI charged her. She claims Pitino asked her for a list of demands, and that he was prepared to give her $100,000 and leave Louisville to go to the Phoenix Suns. So she and her mother want the public to believe Pitino was asking for the list of demands. There’s still plenty of tape, the station says, that it won’t air until the charges become part of the public record. [Fox41]

Louisville Goes GQ: The odds-on favorite as the sentimental choice in the Derby is General Quarters, whose 75-year-old owner may have been your high school principal at Seneca, Durrett or Valley. Tom McCarthy’s farm is out on Watterson Trail. Seasoned writers desperately want this horse to win so they’ll have a tear-jerker to write, and every major media outlet in the U.S. is profiling McCarthy. [BillyReedSays]

Dancing Celebs: OK, Patti Swope’s turn on the dance floor for the Louisville Orchestra’s Dancing with Stars benefit blew us away.  No wonder she won. Media diva Leesa Mitchell got the most votes on the C-J’s poll. And Barry Bernson — we’re impressed with you, too. Watch the videos. [Courier]

It’s Valerie Bertinelli!: She recently showed up in a bikini on the cover of People after dropping 80 pounds. Which qualifies her as the perfect B-List celeb irresistable to Derby Eve party organizers.  Yes, we’re bothered that the parties pay these people to show up, but the Mint Jubilee has compiled an impressive guest list. [Courier]

If You Recruit a Weather Guy from an Augusta, Ga. TV station:  Then he’ll naturally qualify for the finals in the Derby Hole-in-One competition. [WHAS-TV]

Today’s Bad News for Bunning: Joe Gerth points out in this morning’s C-J that the cash Jim Bunning has on hand may be even less than it seems, if he still has to pay his polling firm $20K. And that he paid his daughter, the campaign treasurer, as much as the entire campaign brought in during the first quarter. [Gerth]

Louisville Metro Corrections Does It Again

Remember the little mess Rick got into a couple months ago? The routine legal issue that landed him lost in the Louisville Department of Metro Corrections for nearly eighteen hours?

Read all about it here, here and here.

Remember the lines Chief of Metro Corrections Mark Bolton and his Spokesperson fed us at the time? That whole mess about how terribly sorry they were, they’re working to change things, it was a one-time incident?


Total bull.

I’ve given Metro Corrections ample time to respond and I’m writing this as promised.

Long story short: The exact same thing– seriously, exact same thing– is happening at this very moment. Not involving Rick, but another friend.

They were pulled over during a routine traffic stop in Louisville and arrested on an old traffic violation in Woodford County. (I’ve got a story about LMPD illegally searching the friend’s vehicle, but I’ll save that. But LMPD and Chief White should familiarize themselves with this Associated Press story and this New York Times article in the meantime.) And for the past six hours we’ve been given the run-around by Metro Corrections.

Suffice it to say there’s no way on earth the Clerk’s office and Metro Corrections ever communicate with each other. The different areas of Metro Corrections tell us different stories and give us the run-around/incorrect information and the Clerk’s office just laughs as they tell us another mouthful of incorrect information. After six hours of the run-around, though, what takes the cake? Being told that our friend will be in jail at least another six hours after we’ve posted their bond for processing and such. (As if every other time I call Metro Corrections I’m told they’re not at the jail wasn’t issue enough.)

Does this happen to every single individual who is arrested? Is everyone automatically locked up for an entire day for minor offenses? Does everyone get lost in the system? Why do we even have to ask these questions?

What a waste of public money. Metro Corrections has a lot of explaining to do. The entire department should without a doubt be swept clean. Starting with the older gentleman “working” the Exit Lobby desk who couldn’t be bothered to do much more than poke around on the internet.

We’re sure to have more on this story in six (or 10? 20?) hours. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Metro Corrections spokesperson tells me this sort of thing should take a few hours at most. We guess a few = 12 hours?

I can’t imagine what this is like for the average man or woman on the street who doesn’t have a medium to complain.

Local Group In the Running for CW Buy

A local group led by ad executive Larry Bisig and Metro Council member Jim King has submitted an offer to buy WBKI-TV, the CW Louisville television station, the V.V. has learned.

Bisig is a principal in the local agency, the Bisig Impact Group.  King is president of King Southern Bank.

The station announced on March 10 that it was going through the unusual process of being sold in an auction format. The deadline for bids to be submitted was Friday at 5 p.m. The minimum bid is $750,000. The primary owner is based on California, but the station is operated by a local management team headed by Carol LaFever.

LaFever said she was “cautiously optimistic” about the number of bids and “gratified at the variety of entities with interest.”

She said the winning bid is not likely to be announced until Tuesday.  She declined to say how many bids have been received.

Sypher Charged with Extortion, Lying

It’s Friday afternoon, so here’s your big story. (Check out the C-J link, with a photo of Sypher arriving at the courthouse.)

Karen Cypher arrived at the federal courthouse downtown about 3:00 today, where she was charged with extortion and lying to the FBI. The crimes carry potential penalties of two and five years in prison, and $250,000 fines for each count.

The FBI complaint charges that Sypher attempted to extort cash from Rick Pitino by threatening to harm his reputation over events that occurred in 2003. The lying charge in the complaint stems from Sypher telling agents that she didn’t know the identity of the person who made threatening phone calls to Pitino. The individuals making the threat weren’t identified in the complaint.

The complaint did not detail the nature of Sypher’s accusations. She’s been shopping her story around among media organizations, but none have made her claims public.

According to the FBI’s affidavit, she was demanding $10 million from Pitino at one point, and also submitted a list of demands for which she would “protect Rick Pitino’s name for life.”

If you weren’t sure whether or not Sypher was crazy, here’s her list of demands from the C-J story:

The affidavit goes on to say that Tim Sypher delivered to Pitino on March 6 a written list of demands from Karen Sypher calling for college tuition for her children, two cars of her choice, a house paid off, $3,000 cash per month and a lump-sum payment of $75,000 if Pitino leaves U of L.

She was released by the judge, but ordered not to talk about Pitino and her situation in the media. Her next court appearance is May 13.

Pitino’s attorney, Steve Pence, released the following statement:

“Last week, my client, Coach Rick Pitino, issued a statement disclosing that he had reported an extortion attempt against himself and his family to the FBI.  Today, the United States brought criminal charges against the perpetrator of this scheme.  While Coach Pitino takes no comfort in this prosecution and remains astonished by these events, it marks a turning point that allows him to focus with a clear mind once again on his family and his team.  Coach Pitino is grateful for the support so many people have shown him in recent days.  Given that this is a federal criminal prosecution in which we are cooperating, I have directed Coach Pitino not to comment any further about this case.  Any inquiries should be referred to the United States Attorney’s Office or to me.”

Lamb Answers Critics About Sypher Tape

Bill Lamb, Fox41’s general manager, told viewers in a Point of View editorial yesterday why the station has refused to air Karen Cypher’s claims after it recorded an interview with her.

In the piece, under the headline “Exercising Journalistic Intergrity,” Lamb explains that it would be unethical and irresponsible to air Sypher’s unsubstantiated claims. Obviously answering to some of the station’s critics in the case, Lamb explains the difference between the claims being made by Sypher and allegations in a criminal or civil case. Until Sypher files an official lawsuit or complaint, her claims aren’t on an official record.

News organizations have free rein to report claims made in a lawsuit, no matter how absurd, but won’t broadcast a public accusation without proof.

Lamb says the interview is staying “in the can” until either the accusations are made public or the station is able to verify them.

So it’s likely the public will never see the full tape, and Lamb’s right — airing it would not be a responsible move. Still, we hope security over there is pretty tight, because that tape would be a pretty valuable commodity right now.

Maybe you’ll find it interesting to note that in last night’s newscast, Bennett Haeberle’s update of the story included details on the FBI’s questioning of Sypher and members of her family, information which he credited to “sources who chose not to be identified.”

His story revealed that Thomas Clay, Sypher’s attorney, didn’t expect any official action to take place this week.

Listen to Joe Elliott — Online

Joe Elliott has launched a new website that will feature audio interviews with interesting personalities from the news.

The site, launched last weekend, shows promise. Everybody likes Joe and he’s willing to ask tough questions. He knows how to get guests, and he’s still got influence as the host of the Sunday morning talk show at WHAS Radio.

Whether Elliott’s show attracts any listeners remains to be seen. But count us among fans of the effort. We’ll be listening, Joe.

His first post includes an interview with Mark Hebert, reminiscing about Tina Conner and talking about his new job at U of L; Bill Doolittle on horseracing and an interview with Michael McCarty about the closing of a summer program at the Kentucky School for the Blind.

Listen closely. Hebert admits making a mistake chasing Billy Gillispie down a hallway.

Weather Without Wills

1969. That’s when Tom Wills joined WAVE-TV to talk about the weather. He’s been doing it ever since.

Wills will retire in July after 40 years of weathercasting. He’s been on air longer than any other local media personality.

Wills’ retirement will bring back plenty of memories for media watchers, and especially those who have come to depend on his reassuring voice during weather emergencies.

“I think Tom was the first sealed meteorologist to do local TV in the country, he’s an absolute original pioneer,” said WAVE General Manager Steve Langford. “He’s generally considered the best scientist in the market. I’m hoping we can work out having him fill in around here on vacations and have him attached to the station in some way.”

Wills is also well-known as an instructor in meteorology at the University of Louisville.

WAVE’s weather team includes John Belski, Kevin Harned, Andy Weingarten and Angie Glotzbach.

Sypher Talks, and Talks, To Forde

Just when you thought the Rick Pitino-Karen Sypher story might quiet down a bit, there’s this.

ESPN’s Pat Forde has a story, published at 6 tonight, that shows that despite warnings from her attorney and common sense, Karen Sypher can’t keep from talking about her ordeal. She spent 30 minutes on the phone and two hours at a Starbucks with Forde on Tuesday.

Among the highlights from the story, this reference to attorney Thomas Clay:

Karen Sypher told that Clay quit as her attorney Tuesday because his client would not stop publicly airing her grievances against Pitino, and, to a lesser extent, grievances against her own husband. Clay said Wednesday that he does still represent Karen Sypher, at least as of the time of the phone call.

On a recent night, the FBI questioned Sypher for four hours at a local hotel. It also questioned her 19-year-old son and her husband, Tim Sypher.

There are plenty of juicy quotes from both Sypher and Judy Cunigan, her mother, but I would choose this one as the juiciest, from Cunigan:

“Tim is so far in Rick’s pockets and up his butt, you’d be amazed. Tim’s always chose Rick over Karen. That’s the way their marriage has been.”

There’s plenty more, so you ought to just to read the story from Forde.

Actors Feeling Pinch, Cuts Budget and Staff

Actors Theatre, which just concluded its popular Humana Festival of New American Plays, is cutting its budget by 10 percent and laying off several staff members.

The V.V. has learned that the organization is cutting $1 million from its $10 million annual budget. Thus far, it has let go three members of its marketing staff, with more cuts likely in the near future. Those being laid off after Friday include community relations coordinator Babs Freibert, communications coordinator Leslie Hankins and media relations director Kyle Shepherd.

On April 19, the C-J reported that Actors’ endowment had fallen from $13.4 million to $10 million, and that the organization planned the 10 percent cut.  In addition, it said Actors is outsourcing telemarketing duties, eliminating two positions.

Berman’s Conflicts Need to be Addressed

First off, we don’t have anything against Sheldon Berman, the superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools. We’ve got kids in the system and believe they’re getting a pretty good education.

While we’ve been critical of decisions that Berman’s made, such as the system’s handling of PRP High School football coach Jason Stinson, just as often we’ve agreed with him, like the time he took on the teachers union when he wanted to get rid of some mediocre teachers.

To us, it seemed like his handling of budget shortfalls and the potential ramifications for employees was exemplary.

But we can’t ignore the facts that have been turned up over at Page One. Today’s news is that Berman sits on a Board for a company that is a vendor for JCPS, a clear violation of law. It’s not that we think he’s getting any sort of financial advantage (though he certainly could be) but allowing the contract with VHS Inc. to go forward is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed.

Yesterday, Page One pointed out that Berman has refused to resign from the Board of a Massachusetts company called the Center for Applied Science Technologies.  That company has a learning program Berman is pushing for adoption here.

So, really, we don’t care about Berman’s divorce or if he’s spending his free time jogging with Natalie Stiglitz, or even if he’s helping her find a new job.

But these conflicts of interest cast a shadow over his leadership of the system.