Larry Martin is a man with a “mediator mindset,” according to Gov. Bill Haslam, who has been assigning negotiation tasks to the 65-year-old former banker for several years now.
The most recent assignment is perhaps the most formidable — overseeing $32 billion in spending by almost 40,000 state employees as commissioner of the state Department of Finance and Administration and resolving the inevitable conflicts that come up in doing so.
“F&A is an intense workout. … If I’d known there were 43 different committees and commissions I have to serve on, my answer to the governor might have been different,” said a smiling Martin in an interview at his office in the state Capitol last week.
But he did say yes to Haslam, of course, and not for the first time.
Martin took the job on an interim basis after the retirement of his predecessor, Mark Emkes, on June 1.
The first time Martin was recruited by Haslam came after his retirement in 2006 from a 37-year career with First Horizon/First Tennessee Bank and its predecessors. He started with First National Bank of Memphis, a predecessor, shortly after graduating from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a bachelor’s degree in banking.
Full article HERE.
Excerpt from a Cleveland Plain Dealer story:
CLEVELAND, Ohio — R. Brad Martin was chief executive of Saks Inc. a decade ago when the luxury retailer was embroiled in a fraud investigation that found the company wrongly kept millions of dollars owed to clothing suppliers.
Martin today is the board member at Knoxville, Tenn.-based Pilot Flying J who will sign off on an internal investigation into whether Pilot kept millions of dollars in fuel rebates owed to trucking companies.
The similarities between the two cases and the close ties between Martin and Pilot CEO Jimmy Haslam — for years they’ve moved in the same social circles and their family summer homes are a stone’s throw from each other in the Smoky Mountains — make some question whether Martin can be objective about any findings of fraud at Pilot.
“At the very least there was a cloud over his tenure at Saks,” said Christopher Ideker, a forensic accountant who has participated in many audit committee investigations for companies. “To me, you have a guy calling the shots on an investigation about stealing from customers who was investigated for stealing from vendors. That seems pretty straightforward.”
Leland Wykoff, a shareholder with Saks and its predecessor for 15 years, said he quizzed Martin at Saks’ 2005 annual meeting about how clothing suppliers had been cheated. Wykoff said the CEO took responsibility for what occurred on his watch.
“I leaned forward,” Wykoff said Friday, recalling his conversation with Martin. “I pulled my glasses down on my nose and I locked eyes with him. There was a pregnant pause and I said, ‘Then why are you still here?’ You could have heard a pin drop.”
Haslam, owner of the Cleveland Browns, said he initially didn’t know about any rebate problems at Pilot but said the company’s investigation now shows that about 250 trucking firms are owed money. He suspended several sales managers and took other remedial steps after the April 15 raid by FBI agents on Pilot headquarters.
Chief among Haslam’s moves was his selection of Martin, 61, of Nashville, to oversee the internal investigation at the privately-held company, running on a parallel track to federal agents’ work.
Saks Inc., owner of the venerable Saks Fifth Avenue department store chain, came into regulators’ crosshairs around 2004.
…Saks ultimately settled the SEC complaint about its treatment of vendors without admitting or denying fault — shelling out about $60 million, according to C. Warren Neel, who was head of Saks’ audit committee.
Martin, CEO and chairman between 1989 and January 2006, was never charged in the wrongdoing. His brother Brian Martin, Saks’ general counsel, as well as two other executives, were fired over the scandal, though also never charged.
Neel’s committee found no direct failings among other senior officers. But the committee criticized the level of communication between Saks’ executive suite and board members, and recommended reducing or eliminating bonuses for Brad Martin and the company’s chief financial officer.
Martin stepped down as CEO in a management shakeup within months of the SEC settlement.
Neel, who served as dean of the business school at the University of Tennessee for 25 years and had been invited by Martin to sit on Saks’ board, said the in-house examination was difficult and very uncomfortable.
“The social relationships for me were a major emotional problem,” he said. “I was with friends.”
Neel said he found no evidence that Martin’s brother or other executives “were a major part of the problem, but the SEC required that we do something.”
– Note: Gov. Bill Haslam was a Saks executive 1999-2001.
The start of a Knoxville Business Journal article on Mark Emkes, the recently departed state finance commissioner who may exemplify the kind of business-oriented guy Gov. Bill Haslam likes to have in state government:
Insofar as knowledge about operations goes, there was quite a contrast at the outset of Mark Emkes’ last two executive undertakings.
When he became CEO of Bridge- stone Americas Holding Inc. in 2004, Emkes says he had firsthand experience in virtually all aspects at the world’s largest tire manufacturer — from changing tires, his first job in a Texas Firestone store back in 1975, to subsequently managing company dealings in locales from the United Arab Emirates to Brazil. Firestone was acquired by Japan-based Bridgestone in 1988.
“You know everything they know,” Emkes recalls about managing the company’s thousands of employees in North and South America.
That was not the case when Emkes became CFO for the state of Tennessee, a position officially known as commissioner of the Department of Finance and Administration. That is the top position among the 22 commissioners hired by Gov. Bill Haslam.
“When I walked into this job, I didn’t know anything about state government,” Emkes says. “The learning curve is really steep.”
News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Larry Martin will become the interim commissioner of the state Department of Finance and Administration (F&A) when Commissioner Mark Emkes retires at the end of the month.
Martin becomes interim commissioner at F&A June 1 after Emkes’ retires effective May 31.
A year ago, he joined the governor’s staff as a special assistant to the governor, working alongside Human Resources Commissioner Rebecca Hunter to oversee the implementation of Haslam’s civil service reform, the Tennessee Excellence, Accountability and Management (TEAM) Act; and reviewing state employee compensation.
“I am grateful that Larry has agreed to step into this position and serve Tennessee taxpayers in this capacity,” Haslam said. “He has been critically important in helping us establish the systems and organizational structure to begin recruiting, attracting and retaining the best and brightest to serve in state government, and I look forward to continuing to work with him as interim commissioner of F&A.”
First lady Michelle Obama doled out hugs and quick words of encouragement as each of 170 Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High graduates walked the stage Saturday in Nashville, creating an unforgettable milestone for them, reports The Tennessean. But it was no less a milestone for Ruth Coffman, 92, introduced to the crowd as the oldest graduate of segregated Pearl High, which later became the academic magnet school it is today. She was there to celebrate the by graduation of two great-grandchildren and wonder at the nation’s first African-American first lady.
“That was a thrill for me, because I am the great-granddaughter of a slave,” Coffman said. “I am thrilled and blessed to be here. I’m so glad God gave them brains to be in this magnificent Martin Luther King school.”
MLK’s graduation, held in the Gentry Center at Tennessee State by University, was the only high school commencement where Obama spoke this year, she said in her address. It was chosen, she said, because of its history and emergence as one of the nation’s top-ranked public schools.
“This school is truly the realization of the dream of educational empowerment for all, a dream that began 130 years ago, back when your Pearl building first opened its doors as a school for young African-Americans,” Obama said. “And since that building became home to MLK, students from every background, every culture, every ZIP code throughout Nashville have walked through your halls each day to read and to write, and to think and to dream.”
The idea for Obama’s visit originated with a school counselor and took flight with the help of a congressman (Jim Cooper).
Note: Text of Michelle Obama’s remarks below.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Brad Martin, the newly appointed interim president of the University of Memphis who once hired Gov. Bill Haslam as an executive at Saks Inc., was named Wednesday by Pilot Flying J to oversee an internal investigation into FBI allegations of fraudulent business practices involving rebates to trucking customers.
Martin is a board member of Knoxville-based Pilot, a private company owned mostly by Haslam family members. The country’s largest diesel fuel retailer is run by CEO Jimmy Haslam, the governor’s brother and owner of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.
Federal agents on April 15 raided the Pilot headquarters, the building housing its computer servers and the homes of three sales executives. The FBI alleges members of Pilot’s sales team deliberately withheld rebates to boost Pilot profits and pad sales commissions. No criminal charges have been filed.
Bill Haslam was president of Pilot when he was hired by Martin in 1999 to start up online retail operations for Saks in New York. Martin said at the time that Haslam had “contributed substantially to the remarkable growth and success of Pilot,” which had grown from a single gas station into a $2 billion business. Pilot’s annual revenues today stand at $31 billion, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Shelby County businessman and former Saks Inc. CEO Brad Martin will run the University of Memphis until a successor to retiring President Shirley Raines is found.
Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan appointed Martin to the temporary post Tuesday.
According to The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/112uwYC), Morgan was ready for questions about whether a businessman could effectively lead U of M when he appeared before students and faculty members Tuesday.
“I believe he has a clear understanding of the value of the university and the role the university plays in society more broadly than simply the business connection,” Morgan told them.
During an interview at his East Memphis office, Martin said he will not be a candidate to succeed Raines and his mission is to maintain momentum
“There are a lot of good things going on the university, and during this transition period it’s important we do not miss a beat,” Martin said.
Martin said it was Raines who first approached him about becoming interim president and he agreed after discussions with Morgan, Gov. Bill Haslam and Regents Vice Chairman Greg Duckett.
Martin doesn’t see establishment of an independent board to govern the university as a job priority for him. Nor does he expect to argue against declining state revenue flowing to U of M.
“I wouldn’t count on that,” he said.
The better route would be to pursue grants, partnerships with private industry, internships and other support outside of government, Martin said.
Martin is a 1976 U of M graduate and chaired the school’s Board of Visitors and the University of Memphis Foundation Board.
He is a native of Columbus, Ohio.
While studying political science at what was then Memphis State University, Martin served as president of the Student Government Association. He eventually earned a bachelor’s degree, but it was interrupted when he was elected at age 20 to the Tennessee General Assembly where he served three terms in the House of Representatives.
Martin earned his MBA from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University.
The National Archives and Records Administration has released 785 pages of documents related to Ernest Withers, a photographer and free lance newsman acting as an FBI informant on activities of Dr. Martin Luther King as part of a legal settlement between the FBI and The Commercial Appeal, which filed a lawsuit seeking the information.
The CA has a report on what’s said in the documents in Sunday’s newspaper that begins as follows: James Bevel flashed a wide smile, looking more like a guest at a cocktail party than a suspected subversive whose picture was about to land in an FBI file.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s head of “direct action,” Bevel was in Memphis on this March 1968 afternoon to help organize a massive demonstration King planned. And when news photographer Ernest Withers began shooting pictures, as he routinely did at civil rights meetings throughout the South, Bevel grinned without a hint of concern.
Yet, unknown to Bevel and others at this gathering at LeMoyne-Owen College, Withers, a paid FBI informant, passed photos he snapped that day to an FBI agent, along with details he overheard. His report fueled deepening skepticism within an already hostile FBI as to whether King intended to keep his movement nonviolent.
“He (Bevel) gave a most virulent black power talk,” agent William H. Lawrence wrote after debriefing Withers. Reportedly saying whites will use economic pressure to “attempt to exterminate the Negroes in the United States in some form of genocide,” Bevel encouraged the group to read the black separatist newspaper, Muhammad Speaks, and “come into the black power movement.”
Gov. Bill Haslam picked a longtime adviser from his days as Knoxville mayor to examine repeated problems within the Department of Children’s Services, reports The Tennessean. In an emailed announcement Thursday evening, Haslam named his former deputy Larry Martin — currently serving as special adviser in the governor’s office — to conduct a “thorough analysis” of the $650 million child protection agency.
“I’ve told Larry that he has the full weight and resources of this office as he carries out this mission,” Haslam said in the prepared statement.
DCS Commissioner Kate O’Day has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months. Her department has been criticized for withholding details on children’s deaths, failing to notify state lawmakers about deaths in their districts as required by law and allowing calls to a child abuse hotline to go unanswered.
The Dickson County sheriff and children’s advocates also accused the agency of mishandling reports of severe child abuse. The agency’s computer system has failed to track children, and its youth detention centers have experienced spikes in violence.
…Between 2006 and 2011, Martin, 65, served as deputy to Haslam and to Haslam’s successor, Mayor Daniel Brown. Under Haslam, Martin worked as the city’s senior finance director.
He rejoined Haslam last May to serve as a special assistant overseeing the implementation of one of the governor’s signature pieces of legislation — the Tennessee Excellence and Accountability Management Act, or TEAM Act, which overhauled many of Tennessee’s civil service rules.
Before working for government, Martin worked for more than three decades in banking. His last position was chief operating officer for First Tennessee Financial Services. He joined the Knoxville mayor’s office after his retirement from banking.
Three Knoxvillians who represent the Green Party are trying to make a point: If voters don’t like Republicans or Democrats, they are an alternative, reports Georgianna Vines. “I’d like to see a poll taken (to) ask the American voter or citizen at large, from the tea party to the Green Party: Do you think the two-party system is working well for us now?” Norris Dryer, candidate for the 2nd District congressional seat, asked rhetorically. He’s a retired WUOT program director and a violinist in the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.
…Other Knoxville Greens seeking public office in the Nov. 6 election are Martin Pleasant, an engineer with Knox County, who’s running against U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, a Chattanooga Republican, and Calvin Cassady, a graduate student in public administration at the University of Tennessee, who’s seeking the seat held by state Rep. Joe Armstrong, a Democrat who represents the 15th District.
If Green Party candidates receive about 40,000 votes in the statewide Senate race this year, under a new Tennessee law they will be recognized and appear on future ballots. Green and Constitution Party candidates will be listed in November as a result of a federal lawsuit resolved this year.
Pleasant is working the hardest of the three local Greens. He’s talked and passed out cards to those walking to UT football games. Dryer, who is not seeking money in his race, said if anyone offers him any, “I suggest they give it to Marty Pleasant.”
Pleasant has some Democrats supporting him, he said. They have rejected the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat, Mark Clayton, after it was reported following the August primary that he is affiliated with an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center considers a “hate group.” The Tennessee Democratic Party has disavowed Clayton.
“I’ve got interest and support from people who might not look otherwise. People really want to vote their values,” Pleasant said.