Tag Archives: company

Memphis Paper Company Wants $57M in Tax Breaks — or Else

International Paper wants $56.9 million in tax breaks over the next 15 years and, if it doesn’t get them, threatens to move jobs out of its Memphis facility, according to the Commercial Appeal.
(If given the tax breaks) the company commits to retain 2,274 high-paying jobs in Memphis, add 101 new ones and invest $115.7 million, including construction of a fourth office tower at its East Memphis corporate headquarters.
The company has filed its application for a retention PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes. The Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) for Memphis & Shelby County is to vote on the application Wednesday.
International Paper’s application detailed the company’s options if the EDGE board were to deny the tax break.
“Move a significant number of its high-paying jobs from Memphis to Ohio, where it currently owns facilities which could house these workers — a decision that could also presage Memphis’ loss of additional existing jobs to Ohio, as well as the loss of future growth to Ohio …,” the application states.
A second option would be to move International Paper’s corporate headquarters to a newly constructed campus outside Tennessee. “This is the lowest cost option for IP …,” the document states. There’s been some speculation the company was considering a move to DeSoto County.

State Lost $475,000 in Sale of Home to Steve Jobs’ Shell Company

The State of Tennessee took a bath when it sold the former University of Tennessee Health Science Center chancellor’s home to a shell company set up by Apple, Inc. founder and CEO Steve Jobs, losing $475,000 in the sale.
Further from Marc Perrusquia:
The loss had little to do with Jobs, however, and more to do with a decision to liquidate chancellor housing across the UT system – just as the biggest recession in 70 years was dawning.
“No corners were cut. No special deals were done,” said Chloe Shafer, real estate compliance director for the Tennessee Department of General Services, which sold the home at 36 Morningside Place on behalf of UT.
“I don’t know why they picked the worst time in the real estate market.”
More precisely, the decision came in 2007, shortly before the housing bubble burst. The UT Board of Trustees decided that providing homes to campus chancellors had become too expensive.
“There’s a better use for those dollars. That was the general feeling,” said Charles M. “Butch” Peccolo, UT chief financial officer.
In the process of trying to sell the chancellor’s home in Memphis, the market crashed. Yet the state stuck with the decision to liquidate the home even as bids failed to materialize and a series of appraisals showed its value plummeting, according to records maintained by the Department of General Services in Nashville.
The state bought the home for $1,325,000 in 2005 when Alice Owen, wife of then-chancellor Bill Owen, complained about a previous house that served as the chancellor’s residence.
After the Owens moved into 36 Morningside, they used more than $28,000 in tax dollars on improvements including $4,500 for an interior decorator consultation, $4,500 for a plasma TV, and $11,854 in shelving, lighting and rewiring. Much of the spending didn’t follow UT’s protocols, and Owen subsequently reimbursed the school.
An appraisal in October 2007 valued the home at $1.3 million. The home’s estimated value fell to $1.1 million in a subsequent appraisal in October 2008.
Over time, offers came in for hundreds of thousands less than the state wanted. Deals fell apart. And the market continued to plummet.
Then in early 2009 the state was contacted by George Riley, a Los Angeles attorney who represents Apple. In a span of eight days that March, Riley signed a sale contract with the state and helped set up a shell company, LCHG, LLC, that would protect Jobs’ privacy. On March 26, 2009, the firm closed the deal, buying the home for $850,000 “as is.”
“We always knew it was a law firm and they were buying the property for someone else. But we didn’t know who they were buying it for,” Shafer said.
Peccolo, the UT financial officer, said the decision to liquidate chancellors’ residences affected only the Memphis and Knoxville campuses. The home at UT-Martin was on campus and was converted to an alumni house, and the one at UT-Chattanooga is owned by a foundation, he said.
The state still is trying to sell the UT president’s home in Knoxville, an 11,000-square-foot home with a tennis court on 3.4 acres. Appraisals on the property have fallen from as much as $3.75 million in 2009 to $2.15 million this year.

Coal Company Fined $50,000 for Pollution

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state has fined an Anderson County coal company $50,000 for improperly discharging 1 million gallons of untreated water and coal waste into the New River in January.
According to an order by Commissioner Robert J. Martineau Jr. of the Department of Environment and Conservation, Premium Coal Co. faces $146,000 in further fines for non-compliance of regulations.
The company has told investigators that the discharge occurred for 12 hours Jan. 3. State officials have said drinking water was not affected.
Premium owns and operates the Baldwin coal preparation plant and Gum Branch slurry impoundment in Anderson County. It has 30 days to appeal the order, which was signed March 21.
An after-hours phone call Tuesday evening seeking comment from the company went unanswered

Mayfield Campaign Milks Company Colors for Publicity, Votes

Advertising for Mayfield Dairy, a dominant brand in the East Tennessee milk market, has a yellow and brown color theme . So does advertising for Scottie Mayfield’s run for the 3rd District The only difference, reports the Chattanooga TFP, is that candidate Mayfield’s logo lacks the picture of a brown cow’s face that is part of the Mayfield Dairy logo.
Experts said the campaign brochures, bumper stickers and posters signal Mayfield’s efforts to capitalize on his career as the pasteurizing plant’s bow-tied spokesman.
“I don’t think we considered anything else,” Mayfield campaign strategist Tommy Hopper wrote in an email. “It made sense for all the obvious reasons.”
Those reasons — homespun name recognition and the happy vibes associated with milk and ice cream — may come in handy when voters compare Mayfield’s views with Fleischmann’s, assuming they’re able to do so.
..On Friday, the 49th day of the campaign, Mayfield’s website included links to donate and volunteer but showed no trace of the candidate’s political views, except for the phrase, “Republican for Congress.” At a recent campaign fundraiser, when asked if he disagreed with any of Fleischmann’s congressional votes, Mayfield replied, “Not really.”
Fleischmann responded at his own fundraiser a day later.
“There are a few people who want to be congressman,” he told a roomful of donors, “and it’s always very nice that they seem to keep confirming my voting record and all the things I do.”
Bruce Oppenheimer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University, said the Mayfield name likely packs more punch than Fleischmann’s, but that may not translate into victory.
“It’s a primary, so you’ve got to give Republicans a reason to vote for you as opposed to the current incumbent,” Oppenheimer said. “It may not be enough to just say, ‘I’m somebody you know because I’ve produced a good product that you like.'”

In speeches, he downplays politics and says his congressional qualifications come from managing 1,700 employees at the dairy empire’s peak — and beginning in 2007 cutting more than 250 jobs as milk prices declined.
“My 40 years of experience in business and my no years of experience in politics actually will help me be a good congressman,” Mayfield told supporters last week. “That’s kind of my reason for doing it.”
Still, Mayfield’s livelihood could provide a fertile line of attack for Fleischmann and other Republican challengers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an average gallon of whole milk cost $3.52 in February, up 32 cents compared to two years ago. At area grocery stores, Mayfield milk often costs at least a dollar more than its competitors’ product.
“Scottie has nothing to do with setting milk prices,” wrote Hopper, a former Tennessee Republican Party chairman. “I would hope the campaign is about the future of the country, not false negative attacks on a good man’s character.”

Environmentalists Sue Coal Company Over Selenium

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Environmentalists have sued coal mining interests in federal court in Knoxville seeking to enforce pollution limits.
The Sierra Club, the Tennessee Clean Water Network and Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM) claim National Coal LLC is violating legal limits on its selenium, iron and manganese discharges into local waterways.
Environmentalists said in a news release that three suits were filed this week citing provisions of the Clean Water Act.
The Sierra Club said the suits are the latest in a series of actions brought by environmentalists in an effort to protect Appalachian streams.
A telephone call to National Coal by The Associated Press was unanswered Tuesday. Another number listed for the company was disconnected.

Note: A news release is below.

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Company Paying $2.4M to Settle Kickback Case

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Federal prosecutors in Memphis, Tenn., say a California company has agreed to pay the government $2.39 million to resolve allegations it paid kickbacks to physicians.
Prosecutors said in a news release Monday that DFINE Inc. of San Jose tried to induce doctors to use certain company devices used in treating spinal fractures.
Officials said physicians were paid up to $500 per patient to participate in a survey.
The U.S. attorney’s office for West Tennessee was involved in the investigation.
DFINE, a privately held medical device company, said in a statement that it fully cooperated with the investigation and continues to deny all of the Department of Justice’s “unproven allegations.” The company said it admits no wrongdoing, liability or illegal activity.

Police Training Company Deemed Unethical

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — An opinion by the Memphis ethics office concludes city police officers violated ethical standards by starting a company to train undercover officers.
In the opinion released Oct. 24 by chief city ethics officer Monika Johnson, she stated the program should be terminated because it has the appearance of a conflict of interest, according to The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/s84QmH).
The audit that led to the report is an outgrowth of an audit requested by Police Director Toney Armstrong, who took over the department in April.
Investigative Techniques Unlimited was created by MPD Sgt. Paul Sherman. The newspaper reported Sherman left the department on Thursday, taking a disability retirement that is effective Tuesday.
Johnson said officers employed by the company should either leave the department or not teach courses attended by city employees.