Tag Archives: pilot

FBI, IRS Raid Pilot Flying J Headquarters (AP story)

By Steve Megaree, Associated Press
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents on Monday locked down the headquarters of Pilot Flying J, the truck stop business owned by the family of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and his brother, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.
FBI spokesman Marshall Stone told The Associated Press that the move was part of an ongoing investigation, but he would not provide additional details. FBI and IRS agents were expected to remain in the building into the evening, he said.
The FBI was keeping all traffic away from the company property, and Knoxville police patrol cars and officers could be seen outside the headquarters.
“Any details that would be released to the public would not be available for some time,” Stone said.
The company doesn’t know why FBI officials closed the headquarters but is cooperating with authorities, spokeswoman Lauren Christ said in a statement. Pilot Flying J retail operations remain open, she said.

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Some TN Schools Adding Class Time in National ‘Pilot Project’

WASHINGTON (AP) — Open your notebooks and sharpen your pencils. School for thousands of public school students is about to get quite a bit longer.
Five states were to announce Monday that they will add at least 300 hours of learning time to the calendar in some schools starting in 2013. Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee will take part in the initiative, which is intended to boost student achievement and make U.S. schools more competitive on a global level.
The three-year pilot program will affect almost 20,000 students in 40 schools, with long-term hopes of expanding the program to include additional schools — especially those that serve low-income communities. Schools, working in concert with districts, parents and teachers, will decide whether to make the school day longer, add more days to the school year or both.
A mix of federal, state and district funds will cover the costs of expanded learning time, with the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning also chipping in resources. In Massachusetts, the program builds on the state’s existing expanded-learning program. In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy is hailing it as a natural outgrowth of an education reform law the state passed in May that included about $100 million in new funding, much of it to help the neediest schools.

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On Giving and Receiving Political Donations in ET

Excerpt from a News Sentinel story on leading political donors in East Tennessee:
In a national campaign, fundraising is a process that starts years in advance and is often assisted by professional experts — people like Kim Kaegi.
The Tennessee fundraising guru has worked for Romney and Bob Corker during the current election cycle, and while she declined to speak for the Romney campaign, she did provide insight to campaign fundraising generally.
Candidates hire Kaegi to gain access to her vast network of contributors, and the consultant said her role includes writing, organizing and implementing a fundraising plan. It also includes a more fundamental task — dialing for dollars.
“I’m on the phone all day long,” she said. “It’s what I do.”
Asked how she appeals to a high-level donor, Kaegi cited the importance of fundraising events. In September, for example, a Knoxville fundraising luncheon that included Ryan raised around $1 million.
“Donors are event-driven,” said Kaegi. “If not for any other reason, it’s a timetable. It’s a deadline to make a contribution.”
In recent decades, the ranks of East Tennessee’s elite political contributors have been led by the Haslam family, which built the Pilot Flying J chain of truck stops. Besides opening their own wallets, company founder Jim Haslam and current Chairman Jimmy Haslam have worked to drum up financial support from their own networks. (Jimmy Haslam’s brother, Bill Haslam, is Tennessee’s governor.)
The next generation of Pilot leadership may take a different approach, if previous habits are any indication. In September, former PepsiCo President John Compton took over as Pilot’s CEO, but Compton has little history of political giving. According to the Federal Election Commission, Compton’s only contributions during the current election cycle were to PepsiCo’s Concerned Citizens Fund.
A statement on behalf of Jim and Jimmy Haslam said they are supporting candidates that share their belief that the federal government is too large and inefficient, and that the country is better served by giving more rights back to the American people. The statement said Compton would not have a comment
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Governor’s Brother Negotiates to Buy Cleveland Browns

Knoxville businessman Jimmy Haslam grew up rooting for the Dallas Cowboys and in 2009 he bought a minority interest in the Pittsburgh Steelers, reports the News Sentinel. Now he’s negotiating to buy a controlling interest in the Cleveland Browns.
Haslam, president and CEO of travel center operator Pilot Flying J, could not be reached for comment Friday, but current Browns owner Randy Lerner confirmed he is in negotiations with Haslam.
A spokesman for Haslam said he was not available for an interview and referred questions to the Browns.
“We are currently in negotiations and both sides have agreed to keep that dialogue and its details private,” Lerner said. “Given that any transaction would require league approval, care has been taken so that this process will not be disruptive to the organization, in particular the football team, as it prepares for the upcoming season.”
Browns President Mike Holmgren said Friday that “(Lerner) is giving up controlling interest in the team.”
Holmgren’s comments came in a news conference at the team’s training camp in Berea, Ohio. Holmgren said he and Lerner have discussed the matter throughout the summer.
Knoxville businessman Jimmy Haslam grew up rooting for the Dallas Cowboys and in 2009 he bought a minority interest in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now he’s negotiating to buy a controlling interest in the Cleveland Browns.
Haslam, president and CEO of travel center operator Pilot Flying J, could not be reached for comment Friday, but current Browns owner Randy Lerner confirmed he is in negotiations with Haslam.
A spokesman for Haslam said he was not available for an interview and referred questions to the Browns.
“We are currently in negotiations and both sides have agreed to keep that dialogue and its details private,” Lerner said. “Given that any transaction would require league approval, care has been taken so that this process will not be disruptive to the organization, in particular the football team, as it prepares for the upcoming season.”
Browns President Mike Holmgren said Friday that “(Lerner) is giving up controlling interest in the team.”
Holmgren’s comments came in a news conference at the team’s training camp in Berea, Ohio. Holmgren said he and Lerner have discussed the matter throughout the summer.

Nine Counties in Liquor Law ‘Pilot Project’

The House has given final approval and sent to Gov. Bill Haslam a bill that makes nine counties part of a “pilot project” on enforcing laws governing the sale of alcoholic beverages.
The bill has bounced back and forth between the House and Senate for three weeks as lawmakers debated what counties should be included in the pilot project.
The final version of HB3633 includes Knox, Hamilton, Cocke, Claiborne, Grainger, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson and Union. With the House signing off on the latest Senate changes, the bill now goes to the governor.
The bill makes several changes in laws governing local beer boards, which issues licenses and enforces laws dealing with beer sales, and the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which issues licenses and enforces laws dealing with the sale of liquor and wine. The changes take effect on July 1 in the pilot project counties only and will continue for two years.
In general, the idea is to make the two agencies coordinate their efforts, said House sponsor Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga. In the past, a local beer board has occasionally suspended the license of an establishment violations, but the business – typically a bar — remained open because the ABC license remained – or vice versa.
Examples of other changes include provisions intended to block the practice of a bar operator closing after being charged with law violations, then having the establishment reopen immediately in the same location under a new name or new ownership; and a ban on operators charged with breaking the law voluntarily surrendering their license – a move that allows them to later receive a new license with no violation on their record.

Bill Makes Knox a ‘Pilot Project’ for Mental Health Outpatient Treatment

The state will pay for a “pilot project” to put ten persons suffering from “mental illness or severe emotional disturbance” into outpatient treatment instead of a psychiatric hospital under legislation approved Wednesday by the Senate.
The mental health pilot project was launched as an amendment to SB420, sponsored by Sen. Becky Massey and Rep. Ryan Haynes, both Knoxville Republicans. It follows negotiations with the state Department of Mental Health, the Helen Ross McNabb Center and others.
The measure sets up a program wherein individuals suffering mental illness and perhaps charged with a minor crime would undergo evaluation and, if need a likely candidate, go before a judge who would send them into “intensive outpatient treatment” instead an institution.
The state will provide $125,000 per year for the two-year pilot project, using money that is part of a $6.6 million shift in funding from the Lakeshore Mental Health Institute, which is closing under Haslam’s budget plan.
“I wish we were doing this statewide,” said Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, in brief Senate floor debate. He predicted the program will be successful in Knox County and eventually expanded statewide.
Overbey said he and former Sen. Tim Burchett, now Knox County mayor, began pushing similar legislation six years ago without success, mostly due to a lack of state funding. He said 46 other states already have “some form of assisted outpatient treatment.”
The bill passed the House unanimously. It is on schedule to pass the House next week.

The bill intended to strengthen enforcement of beer and liquor licensing laws has bounced back and forth between the House and Senate for three weeks as lawmakers debated what counties should be included in the pilot project.
The final version of HB3633 includes Knox, Hamilton, Cocke, Claiborne, Grainger, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson and Union. With the House signing off on the latest Senate changes, the bill now goes to the governor.
The bill makes several changes in laws governing local beer boards, which issues licenses and enforces laws dealing with beer sales, and the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which issues licenses and enforces laws dealing with the sale of liquor and wine. The changes take effect on July 1 in the pilot project counties only and will continue for two years.
In general, the idea is to make the two agencies coordinate their efforts, said House sponsor Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga. In the past, a local beer board has occasionally suspended the license of an establishment violations, but the business – typically a bar — remained open because the ABC license remained – or vice versa.
Examples of other changes include provisions intended to block the practice of a bar operator closing after being charged with law violations, then having the establishment reopen immediately in the same location under a new name or new ownership; and a ban on operators charged with breaking the law voluntarily surrendering their license – a move that allows them to later receive a new license with no violation on their record.
The Senate approved 29-0 Wednesday the “Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act,” which declares students will suffer no penalties for expression their religious views in doing their homework or participating in other school activities.
During floor debate, sponsor Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, was questioned on whether the measure would “blur the line between church and state.”
“Isn’t this trying to make our public schools more like Sunday schools?” asked Sen. Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis.
Roberts said that was not the case. To illustrate a situation where the bill would apply, he cited a student assigned to write an essay on “the decline of America” choosing to address religious decline rather than economic or military decline, then writing about Israel of Biblical times faltering as it “moved away from God.”
The law would assure the youth was grade on the basis of writing, punctuation and such without regard to the religious subject matter.
That inspired Massey to recall that, as a student, she once wrote an English term paper “on the humanity of Jesus.”
The bill (SB3632) awaits a House floor vote.

Environmentalist, Governor Agree: Consolidation Won’t Change Things

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam’s first effort to reduce state boards will merge six panels with significant environmental duties into three, affecting one with regulatory power over gas stations, including the family’s Pilot Travel Centers.
The Republican insists the proposal won’t diminish conservation efforts in Tennessee or present a conflict of interest for him.
Haslam is proposing to combine the Solid Waste Disposal and the Petroleum Underground Storage Tank boards; the Water Quality Control and Oil and Gas boards; and the Conservation Commission and Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust Fund board.
John McFadden, executive director of the Tennessee Environmental Council, said he doesn’t expect a noticeable change if the mergers happen because conservation interests are already sparsely represented.
“These boards are so heavily weighted to the industry side, and the reality is clean water and clean air don’t have much representation on them,” McFadden said in a phone interview.
“The flip side of that is you had six boards making really bad decisions, and now you’re only going to have three boards making really bad decisions,” he said.
Haslam, a former president of the Knoxville-based Pilot chain of truck stops, has pledged to recuse himself from matters that could the family business in which he still holds an undisclosed stake.
But the governor said he cleared the legislation on combining the boards that could affect Pilot before the measure was introduced.
“I actually talked with legal counsel and others to say that obviously that’s a place that does intersect with Pilot, but really that wasn’t changing the authority, it was just combining two boards,” Haslam said in a recent interview.
“In this case, I think any ramifications toward me — or increased or decreased decision-making from the governor — didn’t really impact that,” he said.

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Protesters Threaten to Occupy State Capitol, Pilot Stations

Occupy Nashville protesters are warning Gov. Bill Haslam, state lawmakers and the highway patrol that, if evicted from Legislative Plaza, their members will occupy the state Capitol, other public areas and even restrooms at the Haslam family-owned chain of travel centers.
More from Andy Sher:
In an “open letter,” the protest group denounces legislation they say is designed to oust protesters from the plaza, where members have camped since October. The bill is sponsored in the House by Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland.
“If you pass this bill to evict Occupy Nashville and criminalize our un-housed friends, then you have chosen to escalate the conversation,” the letter states. “If you pass this bill, we will prevail in the courts and on the streets.”
Passing the bill, the letter states, will lead to protesters moving to occupy the state Capitol, other public property and foreclosed homes. Protesters also “will occupy the restrooms of all Pilot Travel Centers.”
The Pilot Flying J Travel Corp. chain is owned in part by Haslam and other Haslam family members. Haslam spokesman David Smith on Tuesday said he had no comment on the threatened action, which protesters say they will take if the legislation passes and Haslam signs it.
“We’re tracking the language of the bill, but we’re focused on the rule-making process,” Smith said of Haslam’s move to use emergency rules to prevent protesters from continuing to live in tents on the Legislative Plaza.
A Pilot Flying J spokeswoman had no immediate comment about the threat Occupy Nashville made about the prospect of protesters moving to the company’s travel centers.

Pilot Flying J Still Growing

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska-based Bosselman Cos. says it is selling seven of its Bosselman Travel Centers to Pilot Flying J LLC.
The deal is expected to close on Jan. 5. Terms have not been disclosed.
The seven centers being sold are in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. They include the Nebraska centers in Big Springs, Wood River and Elm Creek. Bosselman will keep its Grand Island center.
Bosselman chairman Chuck Bosselman says the company wants to place a stronger emphasis on its truck repair shops and full-service restaurants.
Privately held Bosselman is based in Grand Island, Neb., and has operations in 20 states with more than 1,400 employees.
Pilot Flying J is headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., and has more than 550 retail locations across North America.

Bill Haslam ‘Borrowed’ Ernie’s Ethics

Satirist Scott McNutt lampoons Bill Haslam, Ernie and Bill Gibbons in a Sunday piece that starts like this:
Gov. Bill Haslam recently revealed that a story he often tells about his wife’s high school boyfriend, “Ernie,” was “borrowed” from another politician — possibly former President Bill Clinton. Now, he says his administration’s standards of openness and transparency are borrowed, too.
Haslam has long warmed up audiences with a story about meeting Ernie, the former boyfriend who’s now a convenience store clerk. The punchline is that Ernie would now be governor if Crissy Haslam had married him instead of Haslam.
At a press conference last week, after refusing to divulge details of his personal finances, Haslam admitted that the standards of openness and transparency his administration has claimed to hold are actually those of “Ernie,” if Ernie had become governor.
In 2009, Haslam released a summary of his income for 2003-2008, excluding that derived from Pilot (all his investments save his Pilot-Flying J holdings are now in a blind trust). But last week, the governor declined to reveal current information, saying, “Any commitment I made to open government wasn’t my personal commitment.”
“You lied about it?” asked a reporter.
“I borrowed it,” the governor answered. “My administration’s commitment to transparency, and in fact, any vow or claim of integrity I may have made are really Ernie’s.”
When it was pointed out that Haslam had already admitted stealing “Ernie” from Bill Clinton, Haslam replied, “That’s right, and we all know Clinton’s ‘openness’ depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is. So my secrecy about my income ‘is’ his fault.”
Haslam then said when he issued an executive order calling for more openness in state government on his first day in office, it was what Ernie would have done. However, when Haslam signed another order allowing him and his top aides to reveal fewer details of their private incomes than their predecessors, he was pretty sure that was him, not Ernie. He added that he frequently confuses the two.
“Given these revelations, governor, is there anything at all authentic about your commitment to openness?” another reporter asked.
“Probably not, because I seem to have left it in the blind trust with my non-Pilot investments,” Haslam replied. “Still, my insincerity is genuine.”