Saturday July 13, 2024
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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.



With great sadness, The Louisville Zoo said goodbye to near 18-year-old male lion Kenya today.

Kenya had been on what the Zoo calls a quality-of-life watch. Today, Zoo keepers and veterinary staff met to discuss his recent rapid decline and failing health.

Kenya was losing weight; his appetite had decreased and he wasn’t eating well. He was weak and was receiving treatment for thrombocytopenia, a condition characterized by low blood platelets and difficulty clotting.

The decision was made to humanely euthanize Kenya today due to a poor response to treatments and declining quality of life. A necropsy and complete pathologic examination will be performed.

“These decisions are never easy and certainly never made lightly,” said Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Julie Ter Beest. “His condition was worsening and he was getting more uncomfortable.”

The median life expectancy of lions in a managed care system is 16.9 years. In the wild an adult male lion may live 12 years.

Kenya came to the Louisville Zoo in 2005 from Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri. . Kenya shared the exhibit with 19-year-old female lion Kariba.

A Louisville Metro Police Department officer injured in a crash Tuesday night has died.

Officer Nick Rodman, a 2005 graduate of Holy Cross High School, was injured in a crash at 26th and Duncan around 8 PM last night during a vehicle pursuit.

Rodman, a three year veteran of the department, was rushed to University Hospital following the the crash, where he succumbed to his injuries Wednesday afternoon, leaving behind a wive and two young children.


LMPD Chief Steve Conrad said the incident began Tuesday night with reports of shots fired  and an assault.  As Rodman joined the pursuit and traveled through an intersection, his cruiser was hit by another vehicle, causing his injuries.  Details are unavailable regarding others who may have been involved in the crash.

Metro Council President David Yates called today “an incredibly sad day for all of us in Metro Louisville,” noting that Officer Rodman “was a good and honorable police officer whom served with pride and distinction,” who followed in his father’s footsteps, who also served as an LMPD officer.

A memorial is being held for Officer Rodman Thursday morning at the Jefferson Square Police Memorial.

At least four people, including a suspected attacker and a police officer, have been confirmed dead in an attack near the British parliament that authorities are treating as a terrorist incident.

“Although we remain open minded to the motive, a full counterterrorism investigation is already underway,” Commander BJ Harrington told a news conference Wednesday in London.

A search is underway to confirm there are no additional attackers, though police officials have indicated the attack was carried out by a lone assailant.

Parliament was placed on lockdown after an attacker stabbed a police officer before being shot by other officers on the parliament grounds. The injured officer later died of his injuries. At least two people were killed and eight others injured when a vehicle struck several people on the nearby Westminster bridge.

A senior police officer told VOA that they believe only one assailant was involved in what appears to have been “a three-staged attack.”

It began with an SUV being driven over Westminster Bridge right by the House of Commons. The SUV mounted the sidewalk and struck several pedestrians.

Attacker rammed pedestrians

According to police sources, the vehicle struck some other pedestrians at the perimeter fence near the gates at Old Palace Yard.

“The attacker then rushed the gates and struggled with a police guard who tried to stop him. The assailant stabbed him several times,” the senior police officer said. “Other officers shot the attacker.”

Eyewitness accounts

The gunfire was heard at 2:38 p.m. London time inside the House of Commons as lawmakers were debating legislation on pension reform. Eyewitnesses say about half-a-dozen shots were fired.

“It all happened within a minute,” witness Tawhid Tanim told VOA. “I came out of where I work and saw a car had pulled up and I heard I just heard bang bang bang and people running everywhere.”   Continue reading

Mayor Greg Fischer, Neighborhood Place representatives, community members, and friends and family of Jane Charmoli today officially dedicated the new Charmoli Neighborhood Place at 200 Juneau Drive in Middletown.

Joining in the celebration were Dr. Donna Hargens, superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools, and Joe Hamilton, deputy commissioner for the Department for Community Based Services for Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The Charmoli Neighborhood Place site replaces a Neighborhood Place location in the former Urban Government Center at 810 Barret Ave.  The new location was renamed in memory of Jane Charmoli, one of Neighborhood Place’s founding champions.
Charmoli, who passed away in July 2015, spent her life as a public servant.  She worked for the Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) for 20 years as a teacher, and served as president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association board for two years. She also served as a liaison between JCPS and the city of Louisville.

Charmoli was known to insist that there could be no cookie-cutter service delivery; that each family’s unique situation requires a solution customized for them. She helped shape the expectation that a Neighborhood Place would meet those needs.

“For thousands of Louisvillians, Neighborhood Place offers easy access to critical services,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Jane Charmoli’s dedication to establishing the Neighborhood Place model leaves a legacy that will impact families for generations to come, and we’re pleased to honor her work and compassion.”

“Jane Charmoli loved JCPS — its students, its staff and its families,” said Dr. Hargens.  “Jane was tireless in her efforts to connect families with the resources they need so that every child could be successful. She would be honored to have this new center named for her in the community she loved so dearly, serving the students and families she treasured.”

The Charmoli Center houses staff from multiple agencies — Louisville Metro Community Services, JCPS, Kentucky’s DCBS, and Centerstone (formerly Seven Counties Services, Inc.) — in one accessible location.  Core services provided include:

  • Financial and housing assistance with case management services
  • Juvenile and school-related services
  • Child abuse intervention and prevention
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Medicaid Assistance
  • Substance abuse assessment
  • A Dare to Care emergency food pantry
  • Self-sufficiency programs

“DCBS is proud to be a partner in the Neighborhood Place network and to see the grand opening of the Jane Charmoli Neighborhood Place,” DCBS Commissioner Adria Johnson said. “The blended services that each Neighborhood Place provides are customer-focused, but the overall goal of the program is family well-being and safety, which mirrors our agency mission.  The Charmoli location will fill a need of service for hundreds of residents in east Louisville.”

The Charmoli Center has ample, free parking and is accessible by several TARC bus routes. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

A total of eight Neighborhood Places, along with two satellite sites, serve residents across Jefferson County.  Residents are free to seek services from any of locations.

To find Neighborhood Place in their area, residents may call 311 or 574-5000, or visit

Kentuckians from across the Commonwealth gathered at the State Capitol today to observe Kentucky’s eight Presidential Electors cast their ballots for President and Vice President of the United States.

“The meeting of the electors is a special opportunity to see our democracy in action,” said Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. “It’s wonderful to have so many people come together to witness our electors cast their votes on behalf of all Kentuckians.”

Pursuant to the United States Constitution, the President and Vice President are elected by the Electoral College, which is comprised of electors from each state. The number of electors allocated to each state is equal to the number of Senators and Representatives the state has in Congress.

Because Republicans Donald Trump and Mike Pence won Kentucky’s popular vote, Kentucky’s electors are those nominated by the Republican Party:

  • Robert M. Duncan – State-at-Large
  • Jim Skaggs – State-at-Large
  • Dr. Michael Carter – 1st Congressional District
  • Scott J. Lasley – 2nd Congressional District
  • Walter S. Reichert, Sr. – 3rd Congressional District
  • Troy M. Sheldon – 4th Congressional District
  • Mary D. Singleton – 5th Congressional District
  • Dave Disponett – 6th Congressional District


Throughout the United States, each state’s electors meet on the same day in their respective state capitals to cast their electoral votes. Kentucky is one of 21 states in which the electors are not required to vote for the candidate who won the popular vote. Nonetheless, Trump and Pence received all eight of Kentucky’s electors’ votes for President and Vice President, respectively.

The meeting was held in the Supreme Court’s chambers in the State Capitol in Frankfort. In addition to Grimes, Chief Justice John Minton administered the oath to electors and historian Ron Bryant gave a historical overview of the electoral college. The ceremony also featured performances of The Star-Spangled Banner and My Old Kentucky Home by students from Westridge Elementary in Frankfort and the Pledge of Allegiance from students from J. Graham Brown School in Louisville.

The electors’ votes will be transmitted to the President of the U.S. Senate, who on January 6, 2017, will open and read before both houses of Congress the electoral votes from each state. The candidates with the most electoral votes will be declared the next President and Vice President of the United States.

The World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana (WAC) is moving its office to The Dolfinger in the Portland Neighborhood on Oct. 31.

The move reflects a significant milestone in the World Affairs Council’s 30+ year history. Since its establishment, the WAC has been located in the heart of downtown Louisville. It has brought thousands of international leaders to the area, and convened hundreds of prominent speakers on global issues.

“The decision to move to Portland demonstrates WAC’s desire to be part of a bigger movement and a vision for the future of a community in Louisville,” said Dr. Adel Elmaghraby, Board Chair of WAC. “This move will help bring greater international and local exposure to the historic neighborhood through increased in-house programming with visitors from around the world and educational programs for students throughout the city.”

The name “The Dolfinger” is in honor of Emma Dolfinger. Originally the Montgomery Street school built in the 1850s, the building was renamed the Dolfinger School in 1928. Emma Dolfinger was a Louisville educator who was the head of the science department of the Louisville Girls’ School, and a supervisor of science for the city schools. The building operated under that name until it closed in 1975. (It then became Portland Christian School.)

The building was also used as a Civil War hospital. The Dolfinger was one of the first buildings acquired by the Gill Holland-led Portland Investment Initiative. Holland said that there are already several tenants on board but that the WAC is “Our most high-profile tenant for sure. They are the perfect fit for Portland since Portland was where goods departed down the Ohio by boat.”

WAC will occupy two first floor classrooms, one of which will be an event space that will host regular and diverse programs featuring international leaders from its exchange programs; workshops and presentations for students involved in its education programs; and special events that will bring people from around the city to the neighborhood to participate.