By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
THE DAN WHO WASN'T THERE
New York may not even have the 2012 Olympics yetas regular Voice readers will recall, the International Olympic Committee doesn't make its final pick until July 2005but already members of the City Council are lining up to divide the spoils. Barely had chair James Sanders Jr.'s gavel fallen at last Tuesday's joint hearing of the council's Economic Development and Land Use committees than New York's Most Electable began pestering NYC2012 CEO Jay Kriegel for goodies: "I don't hear anything about the Bronx!" "Why beach volleyball in Williamsburg, when we have beautiful beaches in Coney Island?" "We have this golden opportunity to have my dream come true in the Kingsbridge Armory, and you've ignored me!" The tone of the three-hour-long hearing was not whether New York should host the Olympics, but wherewhich probably should have been no surprise, given that both Sanders and Majority Whip Leroy Comrie showed up wearing "NYC2012" lapel pins.
The elephant in the room, meanwhile, was the one notable absence from what the malapropperific Sanders called the "stellular panel" of speakers: Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, and more specifically his long-awaited mystery plan for just how the city would pay the estimated $3 billion-plus Olympic tab even as it plays footsie with bankruptcy. When last heard on the subject back in February, Doctoroff was asserting that he was ditching his maligned tax-increment-financing (TIF) plan for an even more obscure payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) scheme, which he'd be explaining in March. Or April. Now with last week's hearing come and gone, the next likely date is after the council finishes wrangling with this year's budget mess, which could be as late as July.
While Doctoroff (who founded NYC2012 before taking his city job) can dawdle all he wants as far as the IOC is concernedNYC2012 doesn't even have to submit its initial questionnaire to the IOC until next January, its bid book until the following Novemberthe dictates of the construction clock may not be so kind. With the West Side Olympic stadium plan requiring a $1.5 billion extension of the No. 7 linesomething that, if city history is any guide, should take anywhere from several years to an eternity to completefinishing up by summer 2012 could be a challenge, let alone having enough infrastructure in the ground to have office buildings start going up by 2006, as the financial plan requires. All of which increases the rumored possibility that the city could fall back to Plan B: the 2016 Games. Notes Olympic bid watcher Rob Livingstoneof Gamesbids.com: "Often it takes two bids to win. I look at 2012 as almost a warmup bid." Would New York punt on 2012 to go for the gold four years later? Is the timetable getting too tight? Does the MTA have another $3 billion hidden in its slush fund? Answers to these questions, and more, must wait until the emergence of the Dan behind the curtain. Neil deMause
GO WEST, YOUNG FAN
OK, hoops fans, set your VCRs. The four best teams in basketball square off for bragging rights starting this week. The problem, of course, is that the Spurs, the Lakers, the Kings, and the lucky-to-be-alive Mavericks all play in the same conference, and the Shaq/Dunc, Dirk/C-Webb showdowns begin the second round of the playoffs.
Do you think the beasts of the Eastlike the Nets, who beat the Celtics in the first game of their series on Monday nightdon't get the props they deserve? Gnaw on this: The Western Conference's Fab Four went a combined 90-30 against the East. By contrast, the Nets, Celts, Sixers, and Pistons went a tepid 56-56 against Western foes. Indeed, only three Westiesthe Nuggets, the Clippers, and the Sonicshad losing records against the East, while only three from the EastDetroit, New Jersey, and New Orleanswere able to break .500 against the West. The solution to this power imbalance is reseeding. Seed teams according to record: One plays 16, two against 15, and so on. If you had done that this year, this round of the play-offs would be a little less sexy. You'd probably have a reprise of two first-round series in the West: Lakers vs. T-Wolves and Mavs vs. Blazers. And in the other half of the bracket, the Pistons would get motowned by the Kingsalthough it would be fun to watch Ben Wallace lay a body on Chris Webberwhile the eight-seeded Nets would get a Texas-style whippin' at the hands of Tim Duncan and the Spurs. The upshot would be that we'd see Mavs-Kings and Lakers-Spurs a month later and in prime time. Maybe delayed gratification isn't all it's cracked up to be. Allen St. John
COACH OR FIRST CLASS?
Mike Price, the grandfatherly guy fired before he ever coached a game at Alabama, whined at his press conference that he wasn't given a "second chance" after the exposure of his tawdry behaviortopped off when it was revealed that a stripper named Destiny charged a bunch of goodies to his hotel room. "Second chance"? Hey, how about one for the children of Alabama? While the Alabama football coach travels in a private jet and conducts business from an athletic center currently undergoing a $100 million renovation, the state's schools are in crisis, according to Education News in Alabama. Cuts to the education budget may exceed $300 million by fall, guaranteeing massive layoffs of teachers. The rest of the sorry state of this sorry state? Cuts in the next few months in Alabama's Medicaid program will end health care access for 450,000 residents. Ward Harkavy