Wednesday July 18, 2018

News Topics

Restaurant Founder Claims Blackmail, Extortion, Lack of Context, and Improper Corporate Behavior

Papa John’s founder, John Schnatter, claims in a letter to the pizza chain’s board of directors that his decision to step down from the board amid controversy over using offensive language on a conference call was “a mistake.”

The board of directors Sunday canceled Schnatter’s “founder” position and booted him from the company’s Louisville corporate headquarters.  Last week, the restaurateur separated from the University of Louisville board of trustees last week. University President Neeli Bendapudi also announced last Friday that the school will drop the Papa John’s name from its football stadium, calling it simply “Cardinal Stadium” while the company acted to remove Schnatter’s likeness from their logo and advertising materials.

Schnatter said that the board asked him “to step down as chairman without apparently doing any investigation.” Schnatter agreed to the board’s request, although now says in his letter, “today I believe it was a mistake to do so.

In his letter dated Saturday, Schnatter attempted to provide context for the use of his language during what the company’s former marketing agency called “diversity media training.”  The embattled company founder claims that he was, in fact, attempting to distance himself from the use of such racially charged language in response to questions from the agency about whether or not he was racist. In the letter, he states that he “said something on the order of, Colonel Sanders used the word “N,” (I actually used the word,) that I would never use that word and Papa John’s doesn’t use that word.

Schnatter continued on in the letter, claiming that the ad agency attempted to extort the company for millions more than what they were owed due to the offense taken by some of their employees over the founder’s comments. The Laundry Service, Schnatter claims, threatened to conduct a “smear campaign” unless they were paid $2.5 million – approximately twice what they were supposed to be paid.

The full text of Schnatter’s letter may be seen below:

 

Dear Fellow Board Member

 

I am writing because I believe it is important that you hear directly from me the facts and circumstances surrounding the events that were initially reported and mischaracterized in the July 11 Forbes story, “Papa John’s Founder used the ‘N’ word on Conference Call” and ultimately was carried in media across the country.

 

On May 14, Steve Richie, Mike Nettles, I and others in the company met with executives and staff of The Laundry Service, who shared their creative and strategy, at their offices in New York. As you know, we had been testing with significant success, my returning to the company’s advertising. On May 22, at their strong suggestion, I participated in what The Laundry Service called “diversity media training.” The idea was to prepare me for questions I might get as a result of my reappearance at NHRA on Saturday, May 26 in Chicago. (The Laundry Service, for those of you who don’t know, is an advertising and marketing agency which is part of the Wasserman Media Group.) During and after that meeting, The Laundry Service leadership strongly urged that our company retain Kayne West as my co-spokesman in the television spots and other promotions. I told them that would not work because he uses the “N” word in his lyrics.

 

During this diversity media training, which covered a wide number of topics, I was asked whether I was racist. I, of course said no — which is a truthful statement as those of you who know me well will attest and of course, if you felt otherwise you would not be sitting on the Papa John Board. I was asked if I was not racist, then why did I say what I did about the NFL situation? I said if you look at what I said, it was in no way racist. (The fact is, we completely mishandled the NFL situation from a public relations standpoint – both the Board of Directors and company leadership.) I then said something on the order of, Colonel Sanders used the word “N,” (I actually used the word,) that I would never use that word and Papa John’s doesn’t use that word. Earlier, I gave an example of a scarring experience I read about in Texas when I was growing up which further cemented my existing abhorrence of racism. The thought of this situation to this day sickens me. Let me be very clear: I never used the “N” word in that meeting as a racial epithet, nor would I ever.

I have talked to a Papa John’s employee who was in that room with me who confirmed my recollection of these events.

 

The next day, May 23, the company made the decision — not me — to fire the Laundry Service, with their last day being July 2. We owed them approximately $1.3 million. Of course, we said we would pay them what was owed, but they said they wanted $6 million because they claimed some of their people had been offended by what I had said. Moreover, one of their attorneys said they would conduct a smear campaign against the company and me unless we paid them what he was asking for. Unfortunately, the company gave in to this extortion attempt and offered them $2.5 million or roughly $1.2 million more than they were owed.

 

On July 10, we got a call from the Forbes reporter who wrote the above-referenced story. The reporter gave me 15 minutes to give him our comments and said he then was publishing the story. It published the next day. Please be assured, I am going to get the facts of this situation out, but we want to make sure we do it correctly.

 

The Board asked me to step down as chairman without apparently doing any investigation. I agreed, though today I believe it was a mistake to do so. I have checked with corporate governance experts who tell me that this was not a proper action by the Board. At the last meeting, a few of you raised the issue of whether I should step down as a director. Once again, those individuals were acting on rumor and innuendo, without any investigation — let alone a third-party investigation of the facts. And once again, the corporate governance experts with whom I consulted said this is not the proper action of either a director or the board.

 

I am confident that an examination of the facts will bear out what I have written in this letter and show that once again our company has demonstrated that it does not know how to handle a crisis based on misinformation. I will not allow either my good name or the good name of the company I founded and love to be unfairly tainted.

 

John

Celebrate World Emoji Day

It’s time to celebrate emojis – those cute, sometimes annoying little images included in text messages, tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram pics, and everywhere else in today’s connect world.

World Emoji Day is celebrated on July 17, a date chosen because it is the date shown on the “calendar” emoji on most systems, including Apple iPhones and iPads, Android phones, Google services, Mozilla-based browsers, and EmojiOne. It is worth mentioning, however, that some holdouts like Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp aren’t on board with the July 17 emoji, opting to show a different date or a generic calendar page.

Growing out of old-school internet “emoticons” crafted from punctuation such as the :-) smile and ;-) wink, what we now know as emoji originated on mobile phones in Japan around 1999, before becoming increasingly popular worldwide nearly a decade later after being added to several major mobile operating systems. Emoji are now considered to be a large part of popular culture – in fact, in 2015, Oxford Dictionaries named the Face with Tears of Joy emoji the “‘Word’ of the Year.”

The minuscule pictograms are so popular that they even gave rise to the 2017 film, “The Emoji Movie,” featuring the voices of T. J. Miller, Anna Faris, Rob Riggle, Jennifer Coolidge, Christina Aguilera, Sofía Vergara, Patrick Stewart, and other big name stars.

The World Emoji Day website gives some background on the celebration and gives a few ideas of how you can mark the occasion, including tips on throwing an emoji-themed party.

So go ahead: text, tweet, and post your favorite emoji to everyone you know today using the hashtag #WorldEmojiDay.  And don’t forget to vote for your favorite in the World Emoji Awards.

 

Angela Leet Releases Statement on Crime Numbers

Mayoral candidate and current District 7 Councilwoman Angela Leet called the Fischer Administration’s claim that crime is down, “dishonest.”

This claim is absolutely disingenuous. During Fischer’s first year in office, there were 49 homicides in the county. Last year, there were 108 homicides in the county. This year, we are currently on track to double the number of homicides in Fischer’s first year. So seeing a tiny downtick in a few week’s time is not a victory when all Fischer has managed to do is set a new normal of more than a 100 homicides a year,” said Leet.

In a 2005 survey, Morgan Quitno Press ranked Louisville as the seventh safest large city in the United States with that rank dropping to number eight in the 2006 edition of the survey.  Lousiville, however, failed to make independent security review site SafeWise’s 2017 list of 50 Safest Metro Cities in America at all and came in at 106 in WalletHub’s 2017’s Safest Cities in America rankings.

Leet claimed that the legacy of the Fischer Administration would be that “homicides have doubled, shootings have doubled, and drug overdose deaths have tripled” under the oversight of the current mayor.

The LMPD historical homicide data does show a dramatic uptick in murders over the past several years. The highest number of murders since 1960, the earliest year in which data is available, was 2016’s record setting year with 122 homicides in Jefferson County, followed closely by 2017’s number of 116 total homicides.

Fischer’s first year in office, 2011, saw the lowest number of homicides since 2003. The several years following his tenure as Mayor showed measurably higher numbers before beginning their remarkable increase to the numbers seen in recent years.

Leet continued, “For the 10 years prior to Fischer taking office, U of L Hospital admitted an average of 166 gunshot victims per year. During the Fischer Administration, U of L Hospital has seen an average of over 200 shooting victims, and that average is over 300 for the last 2 years. 1700 people have been admitted to University of Louisville Hospital for gunshot wounds since Fischer took office. That does not even include victims who were not admitted.

Putting a rosy spin on crime numbers is nothing new, however. Last August we published the city’s release claiming that crime overall in Lousiville was down 4%, driven by large decreases in violent crimes such as rape and robbery, and smaller decreases in property crimes like larceny. The article, however, noted then that homicides were up by 20% over the previous year’s data.

However, Leet said of Fischer’s attempt “to spin a tale of ‘crime is down'” in a year in which he is up for reelection, “I am disappointed that Fischer is manipulating numbers and denying the reality of drug and gang issues in our neighborhoods.

Guests can create a customized Kentucky State Fair experience next month by downloading a new software program for mobile devices. The app is designed to connect users to all the unique events and attractions that make the Kentucky State Fair unforgettable.

The 2018 Kentucky State Fair mobile app is now available free on both Google Play and the App Store.

Highlighted features include: 

  • Attractions: check out which entertainers are on stage and what animals are in the stalls 
  • Trending: see what’s popular at the Fair 
  • Schedule: create daily schedules of must-see music and entertainment 
  • News & FAQ: get weather, parking and breaking news updates 
  • Maps: find locations of exhibitors, attractions and food

Advance tickets and parking for the Kentucky State Fair are available and can be purchased online via the app through 10 p.m. Aug. 15, as well as at participating Kroger locations.

Ticket prices are:

  • General (Ages 6+); Children under 5 are free with adult
    • In advance: $7
    • Online During Fair: $8
    • At The Gate: $10
  • Parking
    • In advance: $5
    • Online During Fair: $8
    • At The Gate: $10

The 2018 Kentucky State Fair is Aug. 16-26 at the Kentucky Exposition Center. For more information, visit www.kystatefair.org or find the Fair on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or its blog.

The two leaders who most recently guided the Kentucky State Fair Board agree its future is in good hands with new President and CEO David Beck.

Beck officially began his new role at Kentucky Venues on July 1.

Secretary of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, Don Parkinson, and Chairman of the Kentucky State Fair Board, Dr. Mark Lynn, who recently served separate terms as interim CEO at Kentucky Venues, predict David Beck will be the most consequential leader in the organization’s history.

“David successfully led a large organization, involved in major state and national legislative regulatory issues, affecting agriculture and rural Kentucky,” said Secretary Parkinson. “He brings a wealth of business expertise to the sixth largest convention operation in the nation.”

Kentucky Venues operates the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC), the Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) and produces the Kentucky State Fair, National Farm Machinery Show and North American International Livestock Exposition.

“The blend of leadership capability, knowledge of Kentucky and ability to unite diverse industries set David apart in his role as CEO,” said Dr. Lynn.

Beck sees tremendous opportunities at Kentucky Venues. Beck will preside over grand reopening of KICC on August 6. The downtown Louisville convention center has been closed for 24 months to allow $207 million worth of building renovations to be completed.

Beck says the 540 acre complex at the Kentucky Exposition Center is an ideal location for additional private development such as hotels and entertainment venues.

“KEC sits at the corner of Interstates 65 and 264. That is some of the most valuable property in Kentucky. We are asking private companies to give us ideas on how we can collaborate with them to enhance that area for our citizens and guests to our state. I’m excited about developing something special there.”

Beck said other priorities in his new job include bringing together the urban and rural communities and forming strategic partnerships across the state.

“I want Kentucky Venues to serve as an example of how government entities can operate effectively and efficiently,” said Beck.

Additionally, Beck is reimagining facility use at both properties. Beck plans to increase revenue through new business events and agriculture shows.

“I not only want to preserve the rich tradition of our properties but also enhance it for future Kentuckians and guests,” said Beck.

After 41 years with Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB), Beck brings to Kentucky Venues experience in agribusiness, government affairs, and executive management. Prior to his retirement at KFB, he served as the company’s Executive Vice President. A five-member search committee was appointed in January by Kentucky State Fair Board Chairman Dr. Mark Lynn to review applications for the president/CEO position that had been vacant since September 2017.

Visit www.kyvenues.com for more information about spaces and events at Kentucky Venues.

Due to the recent fire at The Kentucky Center, Dan & Phil World Tour 2018: Interactive Introverts, previously scheduled for Whitney Hall, has been moved to Iroquois Amphitheater. The event will still be held on August 2nd at 8 pm.

Ticket holders were carefully reassigned into comparable reserved seating at Iroquois Amphitheater. The Kentucky Center box office is sending new tickets to those patrons per their original delivery method. Anyone who purchased tickets in-person will receive their new tickets by mail.

The Kentucky Center remains the OFFICIAL ticket service for this event and open seats for the event at Iroquois Amphitheater are now on sale. Tickets are available online and by phone (584-7777).

A fundraiser for Breslin Park, hosted by the Louisville Parks Foundation and Home Skateshop, will take place at Headliners Music Hall on Thursday, July 26 at 7 p.m. Proceeds from the event will go towards improvements to the park, including a new skateboarding element and shade structure.

The all-ages show will feature Miracle Drug, The Hot Wires, Adventure, Comforter and Legs Akimbo with DJ’s Sam Sneed and Matt Anthony and Sean Cannon as emcee. Custom artwork, tee shirts and stickers designed by local pop artist, Matthew McDole, will be available for purchase. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance at headlinerslouisville.com, Headliners Box Office, Home Skateshop, Guest Room Records, or at the door the night of the show.  All tickets bought in person, will come with a free Matthew McDole Breslin sticker.

Funding for the project is the result of a partnership between the Louisville Parks Foundation, a non-profit that supports Louisville Parks and Recreation, Home Skateshop, Councilman Bill Hollander and individual donors.

Anyone interested in donating to the Breslin skate spot should visit lpfky.org.

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