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Home / Articles / Opinion / Private Eye /  Bank on the Utah Jazz, Not the Tribune
Private Eye

Bank on the Utah Jazz, Not the Tribune

The Jazz score, the Tribune flounders and Killpack should have had a designated driver.

By John Saltas
Posted // January 20,2010 -

I spent much of the past week in Texas. While I was ditching rainstorms in San Antonio and fighting toll roads in Dallas, I missed the dramatic three-pointer by rookie point guard Sundiata Gaines that gave the Jazz a thrilling win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. I missed the announcement that Salt Lake Tribune owner Dean Singleton’s holding company filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. I missed Utah Senate Majority Leader Sheldon Killpack’s DUI arrest. I missed the stunning news that City Weekly’s bank, Barnes Bank, will close.

I guess I’ll just go through them one by one: Gaines, first. I see that some Jazz fans are already calling his buzzer beater the most thrilling shot in the team’s history. Maybe. But I have to guess that those folks are just too young to remember March 16, 2001, when former Jazz center Greg Ostertag made a three-pointer. Now, that was something. Utah fans used to crucify Ostertag in the same way they crucify—pick one—Miles, Brewer, AK, Boozer, Sloan or Okur today.

Utah Jazz Memory Lane

Back in 2001, Ostertag was the goat of choice. For a brief shining moment—the time it takes for a basketball to travel the several yards from three-point line to the bottom of the net—Ostertag had all of Jazzdom on the edge of their seats. Normally, the poor guy couldn’t drop the ball and hit the floor, despite gravity being on his side. Yet, the nutty giant launched a three-pointer against Portland and it somehow went into the hoop. That was a bigger shot than that by Gaines. First, it was the only three-pointer made by Ostertag in his entire career—he finished with a career record of one successful three-pointer out of 10 attempts. Gaines will do better than that.

Second, it’s my opinion that, thanks to that three-pointer, Ostertag relieved himself from being listed on the Worst White Basketball Players of All-Time lists. Yep, say what you will about old ’Tag, in the end, he didn’t do so badly for himself. On the other hand—and yes, I revel in the opportunity to toss smack to an in-state rival — BYU boasts two players on the Jones Top-15 Worst White Players of the Last 20 Years—Greg Kite and Shawn Bradley. So, in the end, the three-pointer by Ostertag has enduring value to the Utah Jazz franchise — not as thrilling, but just as valuable. Oh, and a month later, Ostertag rode his thrill parade to a career high: 25 points against Phoenix. Did he have the heart of a lion or what? … Don’t answer that.

Barnes Bank’s Closing

Barnes Bank’s closing is on my mind, too. It wouldn’t be so bad, except we had been assured to no end that all was well at Barnes—up to, and including, the day the feds came in and seized the bank assets. We define Pollyanna; today, the feds’ first day on the job, we got news that our two accounts at Barnes are already messed up.

In case you’re wondering — yes, hurrah for the FDIC. But even with federal assurances that our funds are protected, it will be no small headache to get our finances organized and rooted into a new bank. (If anyone wants our banking business, call City Weekly publisher, Jim Rizzi.) We’re not small potatoes, we just smell like them. And we’re not dying, either—or if we are, we blissfully don’t know it. That can’t be said for The Salt Lake Tribune, whose ownership has been announcing for months that its business model is teetering.

Something for The Salt Lake Tribune to Investigate

Nearly every time I’ve written something about the financial house of cards that is the Dean Singleton newspaper-business model, someone at the Tribune will phone me to ask if their job is safe. I always told them the same thing: Hey, if you investigated your own boss and reported on him the same way you do on any other local scoundrel, you’d win a Pulitzer Prize. A newspaper company simply can no longer leverage its cash flow into new loans nor can it sustain old loans on current cash flows. Singleton was leveraged to the teeth, and he knew it. Certainly, he was smart enough to take his share and convert it into great wealth, but that can’t be said for his shareholders. Singleton told the Denver Post that those shareholders “will lose the value of their holdings.”

Meanwhile, he and his “right-hand man,” Jody Lodovic, retain 20 percent ownership in the restructured company — one with less debt and with a majority ownership comprised of the bankers who lent Singleton money in the first place. Last September, Singleton foretold that bankers would become his partners. In a Sept. 25, 2009, Salt Lake Tribune article, Singleton coyly predicted the events of the past week by identifying his banking partners as potential “accidental owners.”

You know, that’s some kind of accident. The next accident you’ll read about may very well be the one where Singleton sells the Tribune to the Deseret News, and the facade of independence he’s been running for the past decade will be cast aside. That rumor has been rampant since he bought the Tribune and refused to sell it back to the McCarthey family (who must be thanking their lucky stars right now). Salt Lake City has two daily newspapers in name only, so really, not much will change. And it wasn’t much of an accident. In Singleton-speak, accident is the new bankruptcy.

Senator Killpack's DUI Arrest

I don’t have much to say about Senator Killpack. He resigned after his DUI, and I don’t think he should have. He’s not a nutjob. Killpack replaced Sen. Curt Bramble as Senate Majority Leader in part because he was seen as a kinder, gentler leader. So, I’m mad I was gone when Killpack and Mark Walker went out drinking. Had I known they were closet tipplers, I would have driven them home. It would have been the pagan thing to do.

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