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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Has Guggenheim Learned a Lesson About Transparency?



     By Ross Newhan

     I emerged from the introductory news conference for the new owners of the Dodgers and wrote a blog under the headline "I'm Willing to Believe Guggenheim Is for Real."

    Wishful thinking?

    It has only taken a week to raise some doubt.

    In retrospect, the news conference seems to have been more Showtime than an attempt to wipe out 14 years of turmoil under News Corp. and Frank McCourt with a transparent introduction of Mark Walter, Stan Kasten, Magic Johnson and the other Guggenheim partners.

    We have already learned they lied when, under repreated questioning at the news conference, they said that McCourt shares only in an equity percentage of any parking lot development.

    The Times subsequently reported that they must pay McCourt a yearly fee of $14 million for use of the lot. Then, on Thursday, The Times reported that it was shown a document--has The Times become Guggenheim's house organ at the expense of other news outlets?--that indicates Johnson is the liason for Guggenheim in any relationship with McCourt and has the right of approval or disapproval over any development in the parking lot.

    What's next? Wouldn't it have been better if all this had come out in the news conference, along with an explanation of how the ownership breaks down on a percentage basis?

    The problem now is that the Guggenheim partnership has created a measure of doubt in any  evaluation of its word.

     Of course, it has also become evident that there is a deeper problem.

    The renewal of the rivalry with the San Francisco Giants, despite the Dodgers' fine start, attracted announced crowds in the low thirty thousands. In reality, there was probably less than 30,000 in the stadium.

    Obviously, Guggenheim has a long way to go in healing the wounds of the last two regimes.

   Hopefully, it should be clear by now that honesty and transparency have to be part of the process.                      

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