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.
Mayor Greg Fischer today announced that Louisville Metro Government (LMG) has entered into a development agreement with The Marian Group for the redevelopment of the former Urban Government Center (UGC) site.
The Urban Government Center is an 11.85 acre site consisting of four buildings that have served as government offices for the last several decades. 810 Barret, the most prominent of the buildings on site, is a 7-story structure constructed in 1924 as the Kentucky Baptist Hospital; annexes were added to the building at later dates to form an entrance area and elevator shaft. The remainder of the site consists of a 4-story building constructed in 1940 as housing for nursing students, a 3-story structure erected in the mid- to late-1990’s that housed offices for Louisville’s Air Pollution Control District, and a small steam plant featuring a smokestack constructed with the original Kentucky Baptist Hospital.
“The former Urban Government Center site has long been a staple in the Paristown Pointe neighborhood,” said the Mayor. “I’m pleased to have entered into a development agreement with The Marian Group who shares our vision for this project to bring activity back to this historic site for the neighborhood to enjoy for generations to come.
The project features diverse housing options including townhomes, shotgun-style single family homes, multi-family rental units, and condo flats. Additionally, The Marian Group plans to include several types of affordable housing, including a Family Scholar House campus. The development will feature office and commercial space.
“We are excited to have signed this development agreement with the City and are ready to move forward with the first phase of this fantastic project,” said Marian principal Justin Brown. “It represents what is great about our city and this neighborhood—mixed-use, mixed-income, intergenerational, and interconnected.”
The Marian Group has sent out notice to the local community that it will be having its first neighborhood meeting on Wednesday, July 25 regarding its plan for the redevelopment of the current Vine Street parking lot into a collection of modern shotgun houses. Additionally, The Marian Group will file that plan with the City soon for planning review.
Marian principal Jake Brown added, “Paristown Pointe is a vital urban neighborhood and we are proud to be adding a new story to its already rich community narrative. Our family and our company have deep roots in the nearby neighborhoods and we are honored to spread those roots into Paristown Pointe.”
Phase 1 of the project includes the development of 22 homes to be built on a portion of the Vine Street Lot, located to the east of Breckinridge Street and to the west of Barret Ave. A farmer’s market space and a pedestrian connection will be constructed on the site, with the remaining area of the Vine Street Lot being retained by LMG to continue the existing community garden in partnership with the neighborhood. Preliminary site work will begin immediately with an official groundbreaking ceremony to be held at a later date.
Phase 2 of the project includes the development of a Family Scholar House, retail, office and mixed-use residential to be located on the balance of the main site bordered by Barret Ave., E. Breckinridge and Vine streets.
“Good things come to those who wait and I’m optimistic in the fullness of time this project will be as much a benefit to the Paristown Pointe neighborhood as many expect it to be,” said Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith, D-4. “We’re hopeful that The Marian Group’s performance will exceed its promises including a park, walkways and good looking architecture consistent with the beautiful neighborhood.”
In addition, the development will bring community benefits such as multi-use connections between Breckinridge and Vine streets for pedestrian and bicycle use, preservation of existing mature native species trees, the addition of green roofs and the reuse of existing building materials where appropriate.
“The proposed project by the Marian Group to convert the Urban Government Center into a mixed use housing, retail and community development is a real positive for the Paristown Pointe neighborhood,” said Councilman Pat Mulvihill, D-10. “I hope this project will be transformational in creating continued investment and interest in the flourishing Barret Avenue corridor.”
The selection of The Marian Group was announced in December 2017 after this extensive community engagement process that included multiple on-site public meetings to hear the concerns and values of people from Paristown Pointe and area neighborhoods. In their proposals, development teams were asked to incorporate what was heard at public meetings.
The Marian Group’s proposal aligns with community priorities expressed during an extensive public engagement period. These priorities include:
Preservation of green space and an existing community garden;
An evaluation panel of both LMG staff and members of the community was formed to review all five proposals submitted and to make a recommendation to Louisville Forward. The evaluation panel used scoresheets to review each proposal.
In the evaluation panel, Lizabeth Calenberg, Mary Hardesty, Debbie Hoblitzell and Chuck Woodall represented the community and Deborah Bilitski (former Director of Develop Louisville), Gabe Fritz (Director of Housing & Community Development), Daniel Frockt (Chief Financial Officer), Gretchen Milliken (Director of Advanced Planning) and Allison Smith (Brownfields Program Manager) represented LMG.
To view the development agreement, determination and findings, evaluation panel scoresheets, and more please visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/advanced-planning/urban-government-c…
Southwest Airlines today announced new daily nonstop service between Louisville International Airport (SDF) and Dallas Love Field (DAL) beginning January 7, 2019. The airline will operate the flight using 143-seat Boeing 737 aircraft.
“We are excited to see Southwest supporting the demand for new service in Louisville by adding two new routes in a matter of months,” said Dan Mann, Executive Director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority. “The morning departure and evening return schedule of this flight make it convenient for those travelers who have business in the Dallas-area, as well as a variety of options for connections to the western half of the country.”
With this announcement, Southwest Airlines will offer 15 daily nonstop flights to nine destinations from Louisville including Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Denver, Houston-Hobby, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix and Tampa. Tickets are now available at www.southwest.com.
“Adding direct flights out of Louisville International Airport is good for our citizens and our businesses, and it’s attractive for the businesses we want to locate and grow in our city,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “Airlift is a significant conversation in our city right now, particularly with our coast cities and other strong business centers like Dallas.”
Louisville International Airport is served by seven airlines offering flights to 32 nonstop destinations including 18 of the region’s top 20 domestic markets. With just one stop travelers from across the region can reach 170 international destinations in 81 countries on six continents.
For additional information regarding Louisville International Airport, visit www.FlyLouisville.com.
By a vote 21 to 3, the Louisville Metro Council has approved the Fiscal Year 2018- 2019 Operating Budget for Metro Government. By a vote of 20 to 4, the Council gave its approval to the Capital Budget for the coming year.
“The approved budget continues to heavily fund public safety and infrastructure, including paving and sidewalks. It increases funding for the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, which is helping to reduce crime in ways proven to work around the country. It maintains historically high funding for affordable housing. The Council has increased appropriations to the Library, to the Living Room project, which diverts people from the jail and emergency rooms, and to Dare to Care and New Roots, to address Louisville’s food insecurity issues. The budget also funds personnel and equipment to double the City’s graffiti abatement program,” says Councilman Bill Hollander (D-9) chair of the Budget Committee. “Budgets require compromise – and the results aren’t exactly what anyone wants. I thank the scores of people who appeared before Council to express their opinions on spending priorities, and Council members and staff who worked hard over the last two months to produce a budget that will continue to move Louisville forward.”
“This budget addresses many of the concerns that I and many of my colleagues had expressed regarding the Mayor’s proposed budget. Our amendments increased oversight and accountability in areas where additional scrutiny is needed and continues to push for a much needed new police headquarters and government building that will better help us serve the community” said Councilman Kevin Kramer (District 11), Vice Chair of the Budget Committee. “There were many areas of change that I would have liked to have seen incorporated into the final proposal, but I do believe that the budget that was passed tonight does continue to move our community forward.”
Aside from maintaining the operations and needs of Louisville Metro Government, the budget also highlights the following areas:
Preserves jobs at the Main Library and funds full staffing at the new Northeast Regional Library and the expansion of the St. Matthews Library. Requires Budget Committee approval of proposed renovations to the Main Library, including any changes to space utilization, staffing and services. ($265,000 increase in proposed budget to LFPL).
Focuses on food insecurity issues by doubling proposed funding to Dare to Care for general operations to a total of $200,000, and more than tripling proposed funding to New Roots to $70,000 (an increase of $100,000 for Dare to Care and $50,000 to New Roots).
Funds the Living Room program, diverting individuals from the jail and emergency rooms, at $1,000,000 and requires monthly reporting by Centerstone on usage and outcomes. ($350,000 increase in proposed budget).
Doubles Metro’s graffiti abatement program run by Codes and Regulation, providing for additional vehicles and personnel to operate them, beginning in February 2019.
Increases funding for the development of the new YMCA at 18th & Broadway by $50,000, bringing the total to $300,000.
Provides additional funding for Parks: $200,000 for Phase III of Charlie Vettiner Park; $75,000 to be matched by the Louisville Parks Foundation for soccer fields at William Harrison and Wyandotte Parks; and $50,000 for Quail Chase Golf Course.
Increases funding for Waterfront Development Corporation by $50,000, bringing Metro’s contribution to Waterfront Park to $1,037,000, to address an operating deficit and to provide for increased restroom cleaning in the park.
Allocates $1,000,000 for improvements at the Impound Lot (a reduction of $1,000,000 in the proposed amount due to timing issues on the need for the funds).
Maintains other recommended funding for paving, sidewalk repair and construction, LMPD, the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, Heritage West, Parks, the Zoo and other projects and services.
Funds increased pension and healthcare costs, with no layoffs of Metro employees and no increase in taxes.
Mayor Greg Fischer today joined Sadiqa Reynolds, President and CEO of Louisville Urban League, and community leaders to announce that Louisville Metro Government (LMG) has entered into a development agreement with the Louisville Urban League (LUL) for the redevelopment of the Heritage West site, a 24-acre acre property in the Russell neighborhood. LUL’s master plan is centered on a 4,000-seat indoor and outdoor track and field facility and will feature community green space and outdoor event space.
“It’s an exciting time to be in west Louisville as it is experiencing nearly $1 billion in investment right now, and we are thrilled to add this sports and education complex to the list,” said the Mayor. “This project will activate a vacant lot, bring investment and jobs to the Russell neighborhood and serve as a healthy outlet for youth and adults from across our country. I applaud Sadiqa and her team at Louisville Urban League for their vision to bring a state-of-the-art sports facility to west Louisville.”
The development agreement states that, pending Metro Council approval, LMG will provide $10 million toward construction costs of the track. Construction is expected to begin in early 2019.
“There is no silver bullet in community revitalization and while sports may be part of an answer, track is not now, nor has it ever been the entire answer. While we can’t ignore the cries of our local track teams to ‘build this facility,’ this project is about more than sports. It is about economic opportunity, families traveling into our community with disposable income and the jobs and organic growth that will happen as a result of this catalytic project. It is truly about the need for a facility like this in our community and since it is to be built, why not right here in Russell,” said Sadiqa Reynolds, President and CEO of Louisville Urban League. “I am thrilled about the work we are about to do and the support this project has garnered, not just from the local community but from partners like the National Development Council (NDC), a national not-for-profit economic development agency that has been working to increase the flow of private capital into underserved areas for almost fifty years.”
The complex will be designed to host a variety of sporting events supported by organizations such as USA Track and Field, and the NCAA, our local and regional public and private schools and local track teams. The facility also will feature retail space and related amenities and will be owned and operated by the LUL. Browne Engineering & Construction has been selected as the Project Manager and Moody Nolan has been selected as the architect.
“NDC is delighted to have the opportunity to be working with the Louisville Urban League and its first rate committee on this mixed-use recreation facility that will be a catalyst for future development opportunities and lead to a substantial community impact in the Russell neighborhood for years to come,” said Kevin Gremse, Senior Director of National Development Council.
Heritage West is located on the western border of the Russell neighborhood, which is currently seeing an influx of investment, including the $29.5 million mixed-income, mixed-use redevelopment of Beecher Terrace, a project expected to leverage at least $200 million in new investment; Waterfront Park Phase Four expansion; relocation of Passport Health Plan’s headquarters; construction of a new YMCA at 18th and Broadway; and the city’s first Bus Rapid Transit Line.
“I am excited that this project is continuing to move forward with a $10 million commitment, pending Metro Council approval, from Louisville Metro Government to help make this dream a reality. The west Louisville community participated in discussions and sessions to make this sports complex project a priority for our community, and it will certainly be a destination spot for Louisvillians and visitors to the city alike,” said Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5. “This project will help change a 24-acre vacant lot into a positive vision of hope and a productive use which will generate other positive effects for our neighborhood. Thank you to Sadiqa Reynolds and everyone at the Louisville Urban Louisville for their belief and dedication to this project, and let’s do all we can to help make this dream a reality.”
The selection of the Louisville Urban League’s development plan was announced in late 2017 after an extensive community engagement process that included multiple public meetings to hear the concerns and values of people from the Russell neighborhood. More than 125 public comments were received on the four development proposals that were submitted after the SOI was released.
An evaluation panel of both LMG staff and members of the community was formed to review all four proposals submitted and to make a recommendation to Louisville Forward. The evaluation panel used scoresheets to review each proposal.
In the evaluations panel Bonnie Cole, Bill Gatewood, Vanessa Lackey and Gary Watrous represented the community and Jeana Dunlap (Director of Redevelopment Strategies), Laura Grabowski (Director of Vacant and Public Property Administration), Scott Herrmann (Director of Economic Development), Aaron Jackson (Director of Finance) and Allison Smith (Brownsfields Program Manager) represented LMG.
LUL will now, like all development projects, formalize their plans and submit them to Louisville Metro Planning & Design Services for review by staff, the Planning Commission and, if a rezoning or street closure is needed, Metro Council.
For the latest updates on the development, follow @LouisvilleUL on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or visit www.lul.org.
To view the development agreement, evaluation panel scoresheets and more please visit
Since March 2018, nine businesses have been approved for loans totaling nearly $1 million by the Louisville Metro Departments of Economic Development and Resilience and Community Services. The loans will leverage a total investment of more than $9 million and will assist the businesses to open, expand services or rehabilitate properties.
METCO business loans, administered through Department of Economic Development, have been awarded to the following businesses:
Microbusiness Development Program loans, administered through the Office of Resilience and Community Services, have been awarded to the following businesses:
Louisville businesses and residents affected by the severe storms and heavy flooding from Feb. 21 through March 21, 2018, can apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, officials announced Wednesday.
The loans were made available after the state of Kentucky on May 1 requested a disaster declaration by the SBA, which covered Jefferson, Hardin, Breckinridge, Bullitt, Grayson, Hart, LaRue, Meade, Nelson, Oldham, Shelby and Spencer counties in Kentucky, and Clark, Floyd and Harrison counties in Indiana.
In Jefferson County, SBA’s representatives will be available at the Disaster Loan Outreach Center set up at T.J. Middle School’s First Neighborhood Place, 1503 Rangeland Road, to answer questions about the disaster loan program and help individuals complete their applications. The center will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 24, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. (Closed on Memorial Day weekend). The Center will close on May 31st.
Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets, according to SBA Kentucky District Director Ralph E. Ross.
For homeowners, loans up to $200,000 are available to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters also are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property, according to the SBA.
For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.
Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes. Interest rates are as low as 3.58 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations, and 1.8 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amount and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.
Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoan.sba.gov. Businesses and individuals may also obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing), or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Loan applications can also be downloaded at sba.gov. Completed applications should be returned to the center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is July 23, 2018. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Feb. 22, 2019.