The lady seated to my immediate right (very close quarters on bench seating) was fairly insistent about using her phone. I asked her to turn it off. She answered: “So don’t look.” I asked her whether I had missed something during the very pointed announcements to please turn off your phones, perhaps a special exemption granted for her. She suggested that I should mind my own business.
So I minded my own business by utilizing my famously feline agility to deftly snatch the phone out of her hand and toss it across the room, where it would do no more damage. She slapped me and stormed away to seek managerial succor. Eventually, I was visited by a black-suited agent of order, who asked whether he might have a word.
As Williamson describes it, that "word" turned out to be four: "I was thrown out." And six more: "There is talk of criminal charges."
Let's put aside the fact that Williamson fell into the unnecessary trap of conflating his antagonists' behavior with their appearance, describing the offenders as "women of a certain age, the sad sort with too much makeup and too-high heels." He does note that his companion during a prior intermission had spoken with theater management, who "apologetically assured us that the situation would be remedied."
So the question at hand: Did Mr. Williamson last night strike a blow for the advancement of civilization, or hasten its demise? (My own view: if you can make it to the second act of a musical without using the playbill to stab your own eyeballs, you have a right and an obligation to text your friends and tell them about it.)
The Jackson Sun is reporting that Tennessee is getting nine recovery courts:
Recovery courts are specialized courts or court calendars that incorporate intensive judicial supervision, treatment services, sanctions and incentives to address the needs of addicted nonviolent offenders, according to a news release from the state. The approved fiscal year 2013-2014 budget included $1.56 million for the nine new courts, the release said.
The courts that will be created through the funding will combine the services currently found in drug courts with those of mental health courts and veterans courts.
As the story notes, these kinds of courts are usually separate, but obviously, there's a lot of overlap in the kinds of cases they handle, so bringing them all together under one roof is not only a great use of resources, it really will help the people in those courts get the help they need so they don't end up in regular criminal court. A veteran with PTSD and a pain-pill addiction can, for instance, get help for his PTSD, even if he's in court for a drug offense, rather than not having his mental illness addressed until he's arrested specifically for something related to that.
These specialized courts do great work helping to keep nonviolent offenders out of jails or prisons where they're often exposed to massive amounts of violence (and, often, easy access to drugs), and they do seem to provide a path for recovery to people willing to take it.
So, this is really good news.
By way of The City Paper comes the news that Metro Nashville Police Department officers and U.S. Marshals have arrested Eric Goodner, the 17-year-old fugitive who is accused of killing 17-year-old Pearl-Cohn High School student Jonathan Johnson last month while Johnson was on his way to school.
Goodner was alone inside the apartment and complied with commands to exit and surrender. He was unarmed at the time of the arrest. The U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force helped MNPD locate Goodner.
Goodner is being charged in Juvenile Court with criminal homicide. He allegedly shot Johnson, a Pearl-Cohn High School student, on April 11. Johnson died from his injuries.
Police have been searching for Goodner since April 11.
In an unexpected victory for the little guy, a Davidson County Chancery Court judge has sided with the long-suffering residents of Camden, Tenn., who have been fighting a landfill that is literally in their neighborhood.
The ruling handed down last week by Judge Carol McCoy states that Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation commissioner Robert Martineau approved permit modifications at the site without sufficient evidence that the Jackson Law — a statute requiring public hearings, and approval by local government before the state can approve a permit — had been satisfied, or that landfill owner EWS had posted required notices. As a result, McCoy declares that modifications in 2008, changing the site's classification from Class IV to Class II, and in 2011, to expand the landfill's operation within its property, "null and void."
The case essentially hinges on two letters TDEC received in 2004, which the department argues were the basis for its belief that the Jackson Law had been followed, and that it could properly approve the 2008 and 2011 modifications.
Over at The City Paper, they a story about Stacey Campfield's libel case being dismissed. You recall that Campfield blogged that candidate Roger Byrge had been arrested based on gossip he'd overheard from Rep. Glen Casada. Byrge sued. Yesterday, the judge in Campfield's case, Circuit Judge John McAfee, ruled in Campfield's favor:
McAfee acknowledged that Campfield had gotten it wrong on his blog, but he agreed with defense attorneys that the lawmaker did not know the information provided by House Republican leadership was false when he posted it.
"The senator was conversing with the Republican apparatus. They apparently had criminal history on a gentleman, this guy's son, a very similar name, except the middle name," McAfee said. "I can see how you could mess that up. It is what it is."
McAfee said in the hearing that the legal standard for determining libel of public officials involves proving malicious intent or "a complete reckless disregard of the truth" or an awareness that the information was probably false.
So, it's a victory for Campfield in the sense that he doesn't have to come up with three-quarters of a million dollars. But it's also a loss.
It seems like every ambitious Southern politician, if not a doofus in his own right (I'm looking at you, Newt Gingrich), has a doofus brother. The most famous are Billy "I'm an Agent of the Libyan Government" Carter and Roger "Secret Service Nickname 'Headache' " Clinton.
I'm not saying we should add Jimmy Haslam to the list of brothers politicians would rather not be asked about. But if you wanted to scroll down to "H" on the list and put your cursor there, it might not be a bad idea. Things are not going well for Jimmy.
Over on ESPN, they're devoting major time to discussing how embarrassing it is that one of the 32 people allowed to own a football team is in "serious trouble with the federal government." They're also reporting that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell met with Haslam on Tuesday to try to get a handle on this mess.
Convenience Store News (and how's that for a niche outlet?) is reporting that the lawyer for Atlantic Coast Carriers, which is now suing Pilot, thinks that "Six more trucking companies are likely to join the class-action lawsuit against Pilot Flying J by the end of the week."
And that lawyer, Mark Tate, isn't fucking around. The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports, "The lawyer for a Georgia trucking company accused Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam today of witness tampering and cheating customers once again as the fallout from a federal fuel rebate fraud probe continues." Tate's claiming that Haslam's PR tour is basically about trying to get people to agree to settle only for what Pilot might have cheated them out of, rather than what a court might award them.
On Monday afternoon, Jimmy Haslam held a press conference and talked about what steps Pilot Flying J is taking to deal internally with the whole rebate scandal. You can read the details at The City Paper and/or at Metro Pulse.
I will say that his discomfort and embarrassment, specifically when he was talking about having to call customers and apologize, looked genuine. He has pretty obvious tells — when he's on footing he feels certain about, saying things that are PR business-speak, he looks level to viewers or up. When he's uncomfortable, he looks down. He was doing a lot of looking down.
And it definitely seemed to me that the magnitude of the PR disaster this is for his company weighs on him.
But one thing I didn't talk about yesterday is the as-yet-overlooked federal trouble Pilot could be in. I mean, it's good that Haslam is directing the company to figure out what it owes people and pay them. But how do you make right the "Manuel" part?
Yes, you read that right, at Pilot Flying J, this program was not only called "manual rebates" but "Manuel rebates." Because it turns out that someone didn't learn the first rule of supervillainy, which is: "Don't call your racist plan by a name common in the group you're targeting." In the affidavit, on page 83, regional sales director Kevin Hanscomb outlines how and why Pilot allegedly specifically targeted Hispanics:
All hail Cari Wade Gervin, a reporter for the Metro Pulse in Knoxville, who spent around four hours last night tweeting her way through a 120-page affidavit detailing some sordid activity at Pilot Flying J, the truck stop chain owned by the family of Gov. Bill Haslam.
The headline: An employee at the company told investigators that CEO Jimmy Haslam, the governor's brother and owner of the Cleveland Browns, knew of fraud at the company.
Gov. Haslam said in a statement, through a spokesman, yesterday that he "continues to have absolute faith in his brother's integrity."
After the jump, Gervin's epic tweeting of the affidavit, as collected on Storify by Dave Hollenberg.
Put away your Samurai swords, daggers, switchblades, meat cleavers, cutlasses and machetes. The right to bear knives and other long sharp instruments will remain restricted in Tennessee now that the Senate has accepted the House version of this year's best example of cutting-edge legislation. (Ha!)
That bill originally legalized switchblades and deleted from the law the 4-inch limit on the length of knives that you can carry. It also nullified any existing limits in cities or counties and prohibited them from imposing any new ones. Despite opposition from the state's law officers, the Senate passed this version last month.
Now under the House's wimpy version, the bill still stops cities and counties from passing their own ordinances but keeps the 4-inch limit in state law. Switchblades still are illegal.
"A couple of law enforcement associations in this state got out the long knives on this bill and, with the House members, they cut it to pieces," the bill's sponsor, Sen. Mike Bell, complained today.
If you really want somebody to know something, you could just tell them.
I doubt she'd choke on yours.
The story on "the Lutheran," ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, was from January. I was…
Bill, I agree. But you're messing with Betsy's MO.