Special/Signature Issues » The Power List

The Fallen

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Like rich boyfriends, when the money's gone, all the blemishes and shortcomings we never really noticed suddenly become obvious.

Philip J. Schoonover (No. 68 on the 2008 List), former chief executive of Circuit City, went down in flames with the disappearance of his company late last year.

Former Treasury Secretary John Snow (No. 60 in 2008), chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, oversaw what turned out to be a horrendous bet on Detroit in 2007. Cerberus, which pooled its resources to take over Chrysler two years ago, lost its 80 percent equity stake when the automaker filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, losing billions of dollars.

Ted Chandler (No. 27 in 2008), former president and chief executive of LandAmerica Financial and chairman of the Richmond Chamber, was filing claims for unpaid severance in May after the title insurer went bankrupt in November. Poor Ted. He wants his $5.3 million.

The political recession, however, may have been worse. The retirement of uber Power-Lister Eugene Trani (No. 1, 2007; No. 4, 2008) perhaps is the biggest blow. The former president of Virginia Commonwealth University is focusing on academics in retirement — cue the ironic sighs — and big bully L. Douglas Wilder, former governor, remains on the 2009 List out of fear at No. 44. But he's largely gone into hiding since leaving the office of mayor.

Unconventional ways of gaining power in Richmond are still possible, and there's more opportunity to break into the List. A new power grid is emerging. And the fallen are capable of comebacks (except Schoonover). Trani just might get bored with Russian history sooner than you think.

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