On Tuesday, three more Pilot Flying J employees pled guilty to various charges related to Pilot's infamous rebate program. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports:
That brings the total to five who have admitted their roles in the scheme that became public with a massive raid on Pilot’s West Knoxville headquarters in April.
Holly Radford, who worked as a regional account representative at Pilot headquarters in Knoxville, admitted by agreement to one count of mail fraud in U.S. Court.
Earlier this afternoon, co-worker Jay Stinnett entered a similar plea.
This morning, Kevin Clark admitted to one count of mail fraud.
So let's just recap — Radford, Stinnett, and Clark pled guilty this week. Arnie Ralenkotter and Ashley Judd (no, not that one) pled guilty in May. We know Cathy Geisick is cooperating with the Feds, as is a confidential informant widely believed to be Vincent Greco. (That's because the affidavit says this about Confidential Human Informant 2: "CHS-2 explained that Freeman had just directed one of the employees whom CHS-2 supervises, Kevin Clark, to engage in fraudulent activity with a Customer during the week of September 24, 2012." It then says this of Kevin Clark: "He is supervised by Regional Sales Director Vincent Greco.")
Pilot is notoriously tight-lipped about how its business is structured, but I wondered if we could tell from who's rolled who the Feds might be gunning for. So I mapped out who works under whom as best I could, using the information in the affidavit. Here's what I discovered.
Hear this, federal government. We will meet you at the border, accept your money, and turn you right back around.
[h/t J.R. Lind]
Another sour note coming from the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
The Nashville Symphony laid off its entire catering and dining staff this morning, aiming to cut costs “not directly related to our core mission."
“After August 4, the Nashville Symphony will continue to rent the building for events, but will use a system of pre-approved, 'preferred' caterers,” chairman Ed Goodrich and CEO Alan Valentine said in a statement. “We are in negotiation with those caterers now and expect to publish the list shortly. We look forward to continuing to work with our many rental clients and want to assure them the Schermerhorn remains one of Nashville’s first-class destinations for special events. We will also, of course, continue to provide concessions and bar service for all concerts and events.”
If the symphony cannot reach some kind of agreement with Bank of America regarding its outstanding debt, the Schermerhorn will be auctioned off on June 28.
In his Weekly Obsession, J.R. Lind suggests the 40 Jealous Whores might function better if there were only 20 of them.
It’s time for the council and the people of Nashville to consider a smaller legislative body. Among the nation’s largest cities, the average council size is one member per 50,000 or so, which would give Metro a 12-member council. That level of contraction is unnecessarily dramatic, but a cut to 20 members would, without any budgetary change, allow for twice the pay — which might be enough of a carrot to encourage members to pay more attention to massive initiatives — while also increasing the value of each members’ vote and, just maybe, providing a more effective check against an increasingly imperial executive.
Of course, as Lind notes, that would require council members to vote for their extinction. Don't hold your breath.
Over at The Weekly Standard, I was reading about how Marsha Blackburn is going to manage the floor debate on a bill that will restrict abortions after 20 weeks. And I was prepared to say something snarky about how Blackburn is perfect for the job, because nothing says "outreach to people who hate Republicans" like the woman who wants to go on vacation with Obama. But, instead, I stumbled across this part of the article:
"I think the reason that leadership asked me to handle the bill is the amount of pro-life work that I've done throughout my years in Congress," said Blackburn, a co-sponsor of the bill. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, has been unfairly attacked by Democrats and some journalists for the past two days for making a factual comment about the "incidence" of pregnancies that result from rape. Franks said on Friday that he supported Blackburn leading the floor debate.
Hmm, I thought, what is this "factual comment?" Which brought me to LifeNews, which is, as you can guess, an anti-abortion site, and this piece titled "Trent Franks Was Right: 95% of Women Who are Raped Don’t Become Pregnant," which says:
People, this is an actual quote from this story:
East Nashville remains somewhat visually interesting because it has escaped the brute beige force of gentrification and urban renewal. Here on the mangy, flea-ridden side of town, it’s all cracked cement, overgrown weeds, barbecued-rib shops, and used-tire stores.
I knew there would be poverty in Nashville — this is Tennessee, after all — but what astonished me was the utter lack of country rusticity. I wasn’t expecting Beverly Hills, but for some reason I thought the poor people would look more like Li’l Abner than Lil Jon. In short, I expected to see more hillbillies and fewer gangbangers and wiggers. But east Nashville is a place where “Music City” has a distinctly different meaning.
I could spend all day making fun of the whole article, but really, what more needs to be said? A dude went to East Nashville, somehow missed the rampant gentrification, then spent a whole article writing about how disappointed he is that the city's poor aren't stereotypical enough for him.
Mayor Karl Dean's proposed affordable housing trust fund starts moving through the Metro Council this week, and the ordinance answers a few questions about how the commission overseeing the fund will work.
Along with the trust fund, which will be established with about $3 million from existing grants, the ordinance will create the Metro Housing Trust Fund Commission that will oversee it. The seven-member commission will consist of one member designated by the Metro Development and Housing Agency, one member from the council designated by the vice mayor, and five members appointed by the mayor. Mayor-appointed commission members will serve five-year terms, while the council’s representative on the commission will serve for two years at a time.
The commission will award grants to fund “renovation or construction of affordable homeownership and rental opportunities, project-based rental assistance, and other supportive efforts to encourage affordability” according to information previously provided by the mayor’s office. The ordinance states that specific criteria for awarding the grants will be established by the commission and approved by the council.
Most importantly, the mayor has answered the question as to how he plans to keep the fund going after the initial $3 million from existing grants runs out.
After 12 years, my first encounter with still Speaker Naifeh came in a chance hallway passing. “Frank, you all have to do something about Campfield,” he said obviously agitated, “he has a blog!” I replied, “what’s a blog?” Naifeh paused and responded, “I don’t know but it sounds bad.”
I know they keep saying that blogging is dead, but I hope Niceley finds an audience and can keep up with it. The best part about blogging is hearing from people who are not people you'd normally know, seeing what interests them and what concerns them. Niceley isn't someone most of us are going to sit down to dinner with, and he's not someone whose point of view I agree with, but I'm glad to hear from him.
Bolder and fresher than ever before...
Bill O'Reilly, godfather of "no spin" and in-your-face television, and Dennis Miller, the king of references and rants, are teaming up to take the country by storm!
VIP Ticket Packages include:
An opportunity to meet Bill and Dennis immediately after the show
An opportunity to take a picture with Bill and Dennis
An autographed gift to take home
With a VIP ticket, your VIP credentials (including the location of the meet and greet) will be available at the Box Office one hour prior to the show. Don't forget to bring your camera!
We should note here that the top VIP package costs $502, with other tickets available at $127, $97 and $77. There is literally more information about the VIP packages than about the show itself, so we're not sure what "bolder and fresher" means. Have O'Reilly and Miller added just the right amount of chipotle to the tzatziki sauce, giving their hand-rolled falafel a tangy kick like no other? Just how much bolder and fresher could they possibly be than ever before when they are already so incredibly bold and fresh? I guess we'll just have to go see for ourselves. Surely it's an experience we'll "never forget."
This Week In The 'Drome we're reminded, as always, it's designed to break your heart.
Heartache vs. Heartbreak : Vanderbilt's baseball season was a brilliant one. The 'Dores set the SEC record for wins and didn't lose a series all season.
Until the last series, a two game sweep by rival Louisville in the Super Regional at Hawkins Field, a devastating weekend of missed opportunities that denied the 'Dores their place in Omaha.
Baseball is a big picture game, a sport of averages and trends. In part, that's why sabermetrics is so useful — baseball is the Big Data of pastimes.
But Big Data — and Vandy's data this year was very big indeed — is Hobbes' Leviathan, made up of interacting tiny bits. And sometimes those bits are not very good. Great teams can often overcome that — a batting slump can be countered by top-notch pitching or a tactical adjustment — but sometimes, the bits are aligned against you.
A team can't leave 11 men on base in a game and expect to win, unless their opponent's ability to plate runners is just as paltry. A team can't leave 11 men on base in a second, must-win game and expect to win — well, ever.
Tim Corbin's 2013 team was so frequently a team of controlled dominance. Never, perhaps not even until the Cardinals squeezed the last out, did anyone expect Vandy to lose, no matter the game situation. There was too much talent in the line-up and Corbin's adjustments were spot-on.
Baseball is a cruel game, sometimes. Sometimes nothing works and it rips your heart out.
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