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Not So Fast

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Highly credible sources say that the same ownership stipulations the NBA has applied to Charlotte -- that city leaders find an ownership group willing to pay $200 million to buy the team and keep it in Charlotte -- also apply to New Orleans and have been made a part of any deal there. The difference in Charlotte is that word of the NBA's ownership stipulation was a poorly kept secret which was leaked to the media when it shouldn't have been.

"You don't want the other owners thinking the office is cavalierly trying to replace the owners of the Hornets," says our source. Also true, they say, is that the NBA never intended for the team to wind up in New Orleans, and that initial negotiations with the city were undertaken largely by Hornets owners without the NBA's knowledge.

Mumford Defies Boss, Lives to Tell About It

Freshman at-large city council member and Wachovia executive Patrick Mumford shocked many last week when he voted against the arena project, particularly considering that his boss, Wachovia chief executive Ken Thompson (who co-chaired Mumford's campaign last fall), was one of the local execs who came before city council to pledge $100 million to help make the deal work.

For most of last week, the rumor mill churned. Mumford voted against the arena financing package, which passed 8-3, because he sought to prove that he wasn't owned by the uptown elites who financed his campaign, or because he had higher political ambition, or because he knew there were already enough votes to pass the thing and wanted to play to both sides.

Mumford says he couldn't have known how the votes would stack up because council members were still vacillating when he called his boss and other bank execs who supported him last weekend -- two days before the arena vote -- to drop the news.

"It wasn't fun," Mumford said of his conversations with shocked supporters. But what will become of him? Uptown sources say Mumford wasn't given a free pass, but that things might have been harder on him had the deal failed.

"His career is not in any jeopardy," said our very reliable source. "We thought some other votes might collapse with him, but it did not appear that there was any further erosion. There is no Machiavellian strategy here. He did this totally on his own and blind-sided everyone."

But uptown leaders' patience with Mumford continued to wear thin as last week wore on, particularly after Mumford publicly argued against changing a clause in the arena deal that would scuttle it if the team isn't sold to new owners after NBA officials had complained that they didn't like it.

The feeling among Mumford supporters was that since he voted against the deal in the first place, he should just keep his mouth shut.

Creative Loafing Leak Under Police Investigation

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is conducting a secret internal investigation into how Creative Loafing obtained an internal police report about a lesbian brawl between two Charlotte-Mecklenburg officers and a third woman. In its February 6 issue, CL printed details of the alleged assault during which Officer Gina Cook kicked in the door of former girlfriend Officer Rebecca Garber in the middle of the night, beat her and another woman, and then drove off in her patrol car.

But when officers conducting the internal investigation checked to see who had downloaded the report, they got a surprise. Scores of curious officers and police personnel with access to the report had printed it out, and passed it around. Internal sources say some commanding officers were given the task of asking those who had downloaded the list, which supposedly included several hundred names, if they had given the report to Loafing. So far, the search has confirmed nothing but the fact that officers are as curious to know what's going on in their department as CL's readers are.

Simonini Catches Sun In Arizona, Avoids Creditors

Bankrupt luxury homebuilder David Simonini checked himself into a $1,000-a-day executive mental health treatment center two weeks ago, leaving his wife to face down angry creditors at a bankruptcy proceeding last week. Sierra Tucson is a luxurious mental health facility in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains in Arizona that helps recovering executives and Hollywood-types deal with a whole host of addictions with non-traditional therapies like equine psychotherapy and cold-water treatment. The center helped Ringo Starr pull himself together, and is best known for its Sexual Addictions Concerns Group, which has helped philanderers like Michael Douglas and Rob Lowe keep their flies zipped. Sources say Simonini's insurer is paying 70 percent of the cost of his 30-day (so far) stay and a family member is covering the rest.

Simonini, 41, the owner of David Simonini Custom Homes, filed for personal bankruptcy in January. According to bankruptcy documents, several casinos are among the creditors to which Simonini owes $16 million.

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