By Bradford Cummings
There must be something about the last name Hayward. While it's officially Old English for 'guardian', the surnamesake of BP's CEO and NYRA's President has melded into something a bit more devious. Guardian of the elitist lifestyle? Guardian of tone deafness? Perhaps it's guardian from reality? In any event, these two Haywards have been very wayward in their handling of the press recently.
Tony Hayward of BP very famously and regrettably said the following: “I'm sorry. We're sorry for the massive disruption it's caused their lives. There's no one who wants this over more than I do. I'd like my life back.” Now if he had stopped one sentence earlier, there would be no story, just a somewhat innocuous press statement as we continue towards 1,000,000 gallons of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico. But people tend to not want to hear about your personal life when your professional endeavors destroy an entire coast.
What I can say about Tony Hayward is he does seem honestly sorry and distraught. He's apologized for the tasteless comment and unless we find out that he personally swam down to the ocean floor and started the leak, I am willing to give him a hall pass on his statement. All kidding aside, Tony Hayward is about the last person on earth I'd want to be right now. There were times of great pressure being chairman of the Jefferson County GOP. I can only imagine what it's like to be the leader of the most hated company in the Western World.
But that brings us to the other Hayward…our Hayward whether we like it or not. In a recent Special to ESPNNewYork.com by Sherry Ross, Charles Hayward of NYRA let us know just how hard he had been working. “You have no idea how many trips I made to Albany in the past 60 days,” said Hayward. “It's a good thing I have a home in Saratoga Springs.”
Has a more out-of-touch statement ever been made by the leader of a company, especially one that was looking to borrow money from state government? The Thoroughbred world is on fire and Charles Hayward is making a big deal out of having to travel to the state capital from Long Island or Saratoga Springs to do his job. People are being laid off left and right in this industry and yet Mr. Hayward thinks nothing of flaunting his Saratoga home like we should feel relieved that he is at least getting a break. To quote Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler from SNL, REALLY?
Let's look at how awful his life has been the last two months. Let's just for argument's sake say that Hayward was in Albany Monday-Friday and that he drove back to his summer home in Saratoga Springs each day. With 16 weekend days thrown out right from the beginning, our universe has now shrunk to 44 days. Each commute of 40 minutes spans 33.4 miles or a total of 2,939.2 miles over his entire two-month journey. At $3 a gallon, Mr. Hayward would have had to pay $440 in gas , assuming it wasn't covered for him by NYRA. To put it in perspective, that's probably not even what most New York racing employees make in a week.
Here are some real world examples: The average Chicago suburb commute is about an hour and fifteen minutes. It takes 30 minutes on a subway to go from Uptown to Midtown Manhattan. In order for me to see Ray's smiling face, I have to drive an hour and a half from Louisville to Lexington if I catch any of the morning Louisville “rush hour” traffic. And no one has any idea how many meetings it took for Robert Kulina to get the recent Monmouth Park deal done and for good reason. He didn't talk about it. In other words, welcome to the rest of the world Charles.
But that's not even touching the real arrogance of his statement. See, thank God for his home in Saratoga Springs or he'd have to make the three hour drive from New York City to the state capitol. Don't we all feel better that an organization that has had to borrow $25 million from the state of New York, a state government bleeding money itself, is led by a guy with a summer home who still takes a large salary?
Now I am as capitalist as they come. I believe in the accumulation of wealth and personal gain if you put in the effort. But should a man running a quasi-public company experiencing its worst financial deficit be making large six figures while he's financially stable enough to have two homes in one of the most expensive states in the country? Doesn't he have a responsibility to the company he runs to do everything he can to cut costs? CEO's of major financial institutions took salaries of $1 a year to help turn things around after the collapse in 2008. Wouldn't it make sense for Charles Hayward to offer something similar? New Yorkers should be up in arms.
It's clearly not been a good couple months for the Hayward name. But at least Tony Hayward has introduced us to the terms tar ball and junk shot. Outside of an ability to beg for government cheese, it's hard to point to Charles Hayward's recent positive contributions.
Copyright © 2010, Ray Paulick
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