Tag Archives: Fred Wilpon

FORMER GOVERNOR MARIO CUOMO APPOINTED TO MEDIATE TRUSTEE/WILPON-KATZ DISPUTE: HERE’S HOW THE PROCESS WORKS

                                                                                      Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

 When the news broke yesterday on Mike Francesa’s show that Governor Mario Cuomo, Queens native, St. John’s grad and former minor league baseball player, had been appointed to mediate the Picard/Wilpon-Katz dispute, Mike had a number of questions about the appointment. Here are answers to some of those questions.

1) HOW DID THE APPOINTMENT COME ABOUT?

The appointment was ordered by Judge Burton R. Lifland, the United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Southern District of New York who is in charge of the massive Madoff bankruptcy proceeding. According to Judge Lifland’s Order, dated February 10, 2011, “the parties have been informed of and consented to the Court’s choice of mediator.” Obviously, this is Judge Lifland’s idea and both sides have agreed to it.

2) WHAT IS THE GENERAL PURPOSE OF MEDIATION?

According to the AAA (American Arbitration Association), “[m]ediation is a non-binding process where a neutral third-party (the mediator) works with the parties to reach a mutually agreeable settlement.” It will also speed up the process of, possibly, settling this case.

3) IS THIS A GOOD THING FOR THE NEW YORK METS?

A fascinating question. If the Mets are defined as Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, it is a good thing because this is a chance to settle this case. If a fan is viewing this as the owners should sell the team now because of all of these troubles then, depending on one’s personal feelings about the team and its present ownership, a fan may not like this.

4) WHY DID THE APPOINTMENT COME ABOUT?

Judge Lifland decided “that there are special issues presented in the Adversary Proceeding that suggest referral to an appropriately experienced mediator.” The New York Times has reported today that Governor Cuomo started doing mediatons in the early 1970s and that Judge Lifland appointed Governor Cuomo to be a mediator in a large case involving asbestos-related diseases in 2004.

5) WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Governor Cuomo will now consult with attorneys for the parties and fix a reasonable time and place for an initial mediation conference of the parties with him. He will notify the attorneys in writing of the time and place. Governor Cuomo, as mediator, has the power to establish the time for all mediation activities, including private meetings between the mediator and the parties and the submission of all relevant documents.

6) WHAT HAPPENS AT THE ACTUAL MEDIATION CONFERENCE?

At the conference, a representative of each party with complete authority to negotiate all disputed amounts and issues must attend the conference. In addition, if Governor Cuomo wants to, he can require the presence of a party representative or a non-attorney principal of the party with settlement authority at any conference. Governor Cuomo can also determine when the parties are to be present in the conference room.

7) DOES GOVERNOR CUOMO MAKE A SETTLEMENT RECOMMENDATION TO THE PARTIES?

While the Governor does not have to make written comments or recommendations, he can, if he so desires, furnish the attorneys for the parties with a written settlement recommendation. Such recommendation, however, will not be filed with the Court.

8) WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE MEDIATION IS OVER?

Governor Cuomo will have to file a final report discussing the results of the mediation. If an agreement is reached, then paperwork (a stipulation of settlement or a motion for approval of the settlement) will be presented to Judge Lifland for his review. If no settlement is reached, then the case will be heard or tried as scheduled.

9) CAN THE PUBLIC ATTEND THESE CONFERENCES?

No, these conferences are confidential. In fact, no statement made by the mediator, parties or others during the mediation can be divulged to the Court (so as not to influence the Judge one way or the other if there is no settlement reached) or any third party. Indeed, all records, reports or other documents received or made by the mediator shall be confidential and not provided to the Court, unless they would otherwise be admissible.

10) CAN THIS CASE BE SETTLED?

Well, this will be a very difficult case to settle. If anyone can do it, it’s Governor Cuomo. But Irving Picard, the Trustee, is starting somewhere in the high hundreds of millions to, possibly, a billion dollars. The Sterling Partners, Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz and others, are steadfastly maintaining that they knew nothing and were duped by Madoff like all of the other investors. So they are starting at or near zero. That will obviously be a huge bridge to gap.

© Copyright 2011 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

Advertisements

IMAGINE IF THE METS DID NOT WANT TO TREAT WILLIE WITH RESPECT

                                            Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

The Willie Randolph saga just won’t go away.  Somebody (Omar Minaya? Fred Wilpon? Jeff Wilpon?) made a huge mistake in judgment in handling this very defensible firing.  But it’s only gotten worse in the last 48 hours.  Armed with a very easy schedule (Colorado and Seattle are a combined 35 games under .500), the Mets have been unable to get off to a good start under Jerry Manuel (2-2 against these awful teams, 3-3 overall).   Manuel, an intelligent guy, immediately got multiple cases of foot-in-mouth disease with his now-famous (misunderstood?) fertilizer comments and I’ll cut him comments and gangster (oops, I mean gangsta) comments.  He should know better.

    

Speaking of knowing better, let’s turn to Mets owner Fred Wilpon.  Another very intelligent guy, maybe he just gets a case of brain lock when the cameras start rolling.  How about this Monday comment from Wilpon:  “The intent here, clearly, was to respect Willie and to respect his feelings and to do it in person.”  Of course, this flies in the face of the multiple reports that state that Willie asked Minaya point-blank, before getting on a cross country flight, whether he was going to fire Willie and, if the answer to that was yes, “do it now.”  Minaya, who had already spoken to Wilpon once (twice?) about firing Willie, didn’t fire Willie then under the now-famous “I wanted to sleep on my decision” defense.  Instead, he showed his “respect” (I guess) by allowing Willie to fly out to Los Angeles, win a game against a very tough Angels team (third win in four games) and THEN fire him in person after midnight.

    

Which takes us back to the (alleged) respect factor.  Willie and everybody else would have had a lot more respect for Minaya and the Wilpons if they had fired him before the flight to California.  Once the “we wanted to do it in person” analysis took over, things went from bad to worse.  The final scenario (firing him at 3 a.m. Eastern, as if nobody would notice in the internet age), unless the Mets have an incredible turnaround, will be discussed for years to come.  While Wayne Gretzky once made the mistake of calling the New Jersey Devils a “Mickey Mouse” organization (although one could argue they were at the time), one can only wonder what he would have said about this situation.

    

As if all of this wasn’t bad enough, Fred Wilpon had to tell the media that their reports on the barren Mets farm system are simply wrong and that “it is obvious that they have played well” since Willie was fired.  Well, only time will tell about the first although, by objective reports, it certainly seems that the Mets don’t have much in the minors.  Besides, how would Fred Wilpon really know anyway?  He’s simply regurgitating what someone (Minaya?) told him about his farm system.  As for the Mets playing well, we’ve already stated (See Kallas Remarks, 6/17/08) that the timing of this change was partially  due to the weak schedule (three games v. Colorado and three games v. Seattle) the Mets had coming up (because it would have been impossible to fire Willie if he had done well in that six-game stretch).

    

At 2-2 against these weak teams, it’s hard to say that the Mets are “obviously” playing well.  In fact, it’s fair to say that the Mets are still stuck in the same rut they were in last week, last month and last season.  Will this change?  That remains to be seen.

    

But it’s hard to believe that Fred Wilpon believes that the “clear intent” in this firing was to “respect” Willie Randolph.  Imagine what would have happened if they didn’t respect him?  Unfathomable.

© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.