Monday, February 22, 2010

Agent: 'Ric has done nothing wrong'

Flair's agent today released this statement:

“Ric and his wife had an unfortunate disagreement late last night, which led to his wife being arrested and charged with assault. Ric has done nothing wrong.

The important thing to remember here is that we have some very exciting professional announcements in the near future. Ric finds this incident unsettling and is committed to correcting any issues in his personal life."

Click here to view the release.

- Doug Miller

Friday, February 19, 2010

Read Tiger Woods' statement

Text of Tiger Woods' statement Friday, as transcribed by ASAP Sports:

Good morning, and thank you for joining me. Many of you in this room are my friends. Many of you in this room know me. Many of you have cheered for me or you've worked with me or you've supported me.

Now every one of you has good reason to be critical of me. I want to say to each of you, simply and directly, I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in.

I know people want to find out how I could be so selfish and so foolish. People want to know how I could have done these things to my wife Elin and to my children. And while I have always tried to be a private person, there are some things I want to say.

Elin and I have started the process of discussing the damage caused by my behavior. As Elin pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time. We have a lot to discuss; however, what we say to each other will remain between the two of us.

I am also aware of the pain my behavior has caused to those of you in this room. I have let you down, and I have let down my fans. For many of you, especially my friends, my behavior has been a personal disappointment. To those of you who work for me, I have let you down personally and professionally. My behavior has caused considerable worry to my business partners.

To everyone involved in my foundation, including my staff, board of directors, sponsors, and most importantly, the young students we reach, our work is more important than ever. Thirteen years ago, my dad and I envisioned helping young people achieve their dreams through education. This work remains unchanged and will continue to grow. From the Learning Center students in Southern California to the Earl Woods scholars in Washington, D.C., millions of kids have changed their lives, and I am dedicated to making sure that continues.

But still, I know I have bitterly disappointed all of you. I have made you question who I am and how I could have done the things I did. I am embarrassed that I have put you in this position.

For all that I have done, I am so sorry.

I have a lot to atone for, but there is one issue I really want to discuss. Some people have speculated that Elin somehow hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night. It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that. Elin never hit me that night or any other night. There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage, ever. Elin has shown enormous grace and poise throughout this ordeal. Elin deserves praise, not blame.

The issue involved here was my repeated irresponsible behavior. I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame.

I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn't have to go far to find them.

I was wrong. I was foolish. I don't get to play by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me. I brought this shame on myself. I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife's family, my friends, my foundation, and kids all around the world who admired me.

I've had a lot of time to think about what I've done. My failures have made me look at myself in a way I never wanted to before. It's now up to me to make amends, and that starts by never repeating the mistakes I've made. It's up to me to start living a life of integrity.

I once heard, and I believe it's true, it's not what you achieve in life that matters; it's what you overcome. Achievements on the golf course are only part of setting an example. Character and decency are what really count.

Parents used to point to me as a role model for their kids. I owe all those families a special apology. I want to say to them that I am truly sorry.

It's hard to admit that I need help, but I do. For 45 days from the end of December to early February, I was in inpatient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I'm facing. I have a long way to go. But I've taken my first steps in the right direction.

As I proceed, I understand people have questions. I understand the press wants to ask me for the details and the times I was unfaithful. I understand people want to know whether Elin and I will remain together. Please know that as far as I'm concerned, every one of these questions and answers is a matter between Elin and me. These are issues between a husband and a wife.

Some people have made up things that never happened. They said I used performance-enhancing drugs. This is completely and utterly false. Some have written things about my family. Despite the damage I have done, I still believe it is right to shield my family from the public spotlight. They did not do these things; I did.

I have always tried to maintain a private space for my wife and children. They have been kept separate from my sponsors, my commercial endorsements. When my children were born, we only released photographs so that the paparazzi could not chase them. However, my behavior doesn't make it right for the media to follow my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to school and report the school's location. They staked out my wife and they pursued my mom. Whatever my wrongdoings, for the sake of my family, please leave my wife and kids alone.

I recognize I have brought this on myself, and I know above all I am the one who needs to change. I owe it to my family to become a better person. I owe it to those closest to me to become a better man. That's where my focus will be.

I have a lot of work to do, and I intend to dedicate myself to doing it. Part of following this path for me is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age. People probably don't realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years. Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously I lost track of what I was taught.

As I move forward, I will continue to receive help because I've learned that's how people really do change. Starting tomorrow, I will leave for more treatment and more therapy. I would like to thank my friends at Accenture and the players in the field this week for understanding why I'm making these remarks today.

In therapy I've learned the importance of looking at my spiritual life and keeping in balance with my professional life. I need to regain my balance and be centered so I can save the things that are most important to me, my marriage and my children.

That also means relying on others for help. I've learned to seek support from my peers in therapy, and I hope someday to return that support to others who are seeking help. I do plan to return to golf one day, I just don't know when that day will be.

I don't rule out that it will be this year. When I do return, I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game. In recent weeks I have received many thousands of e-mails, letters and phone calls from people expressing good wishes. To everyone who has reached out to me and my family, thank you. Your encouragement means the world to Elin and me.

I want to thank the PGA TOUR, Commissioner Finchem, and the players for their patience and understanding while I work on my private life. I look forward to seeing my fellow players on the course.

Finally, there are many people in this room, and there are many people at home who believed in me. Today I want to ask for your help. I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again.

Thank you.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gay activists to James: 'We love you'

Activists hope the "power of love" can change what they say are anti-gay attitudes held by Commissioner Bill James.

Tonight, members of the Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality plan on giving James a special Valentine's Day card with signatures and thoughts from local LGBT community members.

“With loving support, and maybe some tough love, he can turn his attitudes around in 2010,” Laura Maschal says. “We’ll keep on checking in with him throughout the year to make sure he stops using anti-gay slurs and begins to open his eyes to the power of love in our community.”

What prompted the group was a remark James said to Commissioner Vilma Leake at a Dec. 15 debate over the county's plan to offer domestic partner benefits to county employees.

Leake had mentioned during her remarks at the meeting that her son had died of AIDS in 1993. Shortly later, James leaned over to Leake and asked: "Your son was a homo, really?"

County commissioners Chairman Jennifer Roberts later issued a statement saying "name-calling has no place in civil discourse" in response to the exchange.

- Doug Miller

Monday, February 15, 2010

'Predatory towing' on East Boulevard?

City Council Andy Dulin said even he was a victim, highlighting a recent discussion about how to handle aggressive tow truck drivers.

Dulin's anecdote:

He said he was on his way to work one day when he saw a wreck at Kenilworth and East Boulevard. He pulled into Starbucks to make sure everyone was okay. When he determined everyone was fine, he said he walked back to his car "and it was already hooked up and in the air."

Dulin acknowledges he parked in a spot that was not for the coffee shop and it had a sign. (Click here to read his account of two towing incidents.)

But members of the city's community safety committee are studying complaints about tow truck drivers swooping in within 30 seconds of a violation and citizens being charged more than the $120 cap.

One tractor trailer driver complained his rig was booted and hewas charged $1,800 to get it back.

A representative of a tow truck company told the committee they don't condone "stalking properties," but businesses shouldn't be punished for doing their job well.

"We may circle around, but that's part of our job," said Tim Harden of United Towing.

The committee asked for more information and will continue studying the matter.

- Doug Miller

Friday, February 12, 2010

Museum's bank exhibit gets update

Interesting tidbit in a glowing review of Charlotte's Levine Museum of the New South: the banks exhibit is getting an update.

According to the New York Times review:

"The Levine’s president, Emily Zimmern, pointed out in an interview at the museum that in coming months the exhibition was being revised and that the final galleries would require particular attention: the show’s concluding section currently notes the triumph of banking in Charlotte — a business that is not quite what it used to be. (Bank of America, a major presence here, has less luster; and Wachovia, headquartered in Charlotte, was bought by Wells Fargo.)"

Fitting, perhaps, to the reviewer's point that the museum's triumph - museum historian's Thomas Hanchett's triumph, really - is its courage to deliver a straightforward, dispassionate account of the city's history.

Less successful, writer Edward Rothstein argues, is Greensboro's Historical Museum, which conjures the issue of race "out of existence" through "gauzy, nostalgic reconstructions."

Also of note for Charlotte, Rothstein says, is that budget cuts this year ended required visits to the museum for the county's eighth graders.

- Doug Miller

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Statement on Bill Clinton's heart procedure

Text of a statement from Douglas Band, counselor to Bill Clinton, after the former president underwent a heart procedure:

Today President Bill Clinton was admitted to the Columbia Campus of New York Presbyterian Hospital after feeling discomfort in his chest. Following a visit to his cardiologist, he underwent a procedure to place two stents in one of his coronary arteries. President Clinton is in good spirits, and will continue to focus on the work of his Foundation and Haiti's relief and long-term recovery efforts. In 2004, President Clinton underwent a successful quadruple bypass operation to free four blocked arteries.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Agent: Cocaine flown from Dallas to Charlotte

What followed was a sting involving 41 kilos of cocaine, a confidential informant and negotiations inside an Arby's on South Boulevard, according to an affadivit filed today.

A federal agent gave the account seeking warrants against Jorge Haro-Martinez and Hugo Luna for conspiracy to sell cocaine.

The agent said on Feb. 3, the informant received the cocaine, which was flown from Texas to Charlotte. Later that day, agents said Haro-Martinez set up a meeting. On Feb. 4, Haro-Martinez and Luna met the informant at the restaurant and arranged delivery, according to the affadavit.

Click here to read the document.

Their arrest, the papers say, happened after they gave their car to the informant. He drove off and met agents at another location. There, they loaded six kilograms - and 35 fake kilograms - into the car. The informant returned to South Boulevard and gave Haro-Martinez and Luna the keys, the papers say.

CMPD stopped the men in a traffic stop on I-77 southbound just past the Tyvola Road exit.

- Doug Miller

Could two Charlotte post offices close?

The U.S. Postal Service is considering consolidating two Charlotte offices, according to a recent filing with regulators.

The branches are:

- Arrowood at 11333 Granite St. (28241)

- Eastway Finance at 3040 B Eastway Dr. (28218)

No final decisions have been made, and 162 are under review, according to a news release.

Click here for the full list.

The statements says the latest list "updates a review process begun last summer that initially examined about 3,300 stations and branches in urban and suburban areas, focusing on facilities in relatively close proximity to one another where consolidations might be feasible without compromising customer access."

- Doug Miller

Dramatic aerial 9/11 photos released

The chief curator of the planned Sept. 11 museum says newly released photos of the World Trade Center terror are "absolutely core to understanding the visual phenomena of what was happening," the Associated Press reports.

AP says the aerial photos capture the towers' dramatic collapse, from just after the first fiery plane strike to the apocalyptic dust clouds that spread over lower Manhattan and its harbor.

The images were taken from a police helicopter - the only photographers allowed in the air space near the towers on Sept. 11, 2001. They were obtained by ABC News after it filed a Freedom of Information Act request last year with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which investigated the collapse.

Click here for a full slideshow of images.

The network posted 12 photos this week on its Web site, all taken by ex-NYPD Aviation Unit Detective Greg Semendinger, who was first in the air in a search for survivors on the rooftop. He said he and his pilot watched the second plane hit the south tower from the helicopter.

"We didn't find one single person. It was surreal," he told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "There was no sound. No sound whatsoever, but the noise of the radio and the helicopter. I just kept taking pictures."

- Associated Press

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Suit: CMS told secretary 'No Spanish'

Ana Ligia Mateo says in a lawsuit she was hired in 2006 as a bilingual secretary at Devonshire Elementary, which has a high population of Spanish-speaking parents.

But two years later, Mateo says, a new principal announced a 'No Spanish' policy.

After the announcement, Spanish-speaking parents with questions would request Mateo to translate, but Mateo says the principal and other staff members told her that was not allowed.

Mateo says she still spoke Spanish. Once, Mateo alleges, staff members told her they thought she empathized with Hispanic parents because she "crossed the border just like them."

Mateo, a Charlotte resident and U.S. citizen, says her employment was "effectively terminated" shortly thereafter.

Click here to read the lawsuit.

Mateo says Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools violated her civil rights and seeks damages.

- Doug Miller

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lewis: BofA lawsuit is 'badly misguided'

Update | 1:32 p.m. Former BofA CFO Joe Price calls allegations "utterly false." His statement is below.

In response to the lawsuit filed today by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo against Bank of America, former CEO Ken Lewis and former CFO Joe Price, the following statement was issued by Mary Jo White of Debevoise & Plimpton, who is representing Lewis.

The decision by Mr. Cuomo to sue Bank of America, Mr. Lewis and other executives in connection with BofA's acquisition of Merrill Lynch is a badly misguided decision without support in the facts or the law. As the SEC correctly concluded recently based on the very same evidence,* there simply is no basis for any case against Mr. Lewis or any other individual.

There is not a shred of objective evidence to support the allegations by the Attorney General. Mr. Lewis and other BofA employees acted in good faith in the Merrill Lynch transaction, following the expert legal advice of counsel and in the best interests of BofA shareholders. The Merrill Lynch transaction - undertaken at a time of significant danger to our financial system - has also proven to be an unmitigated success for BofA shareholders. Mr. Lewis has been unfairly vilified by the political search for accountability for the financial meltdown.** This suit is not fair, it is without factual or legal basis, and we look forward to prevailing in a court where the facts and law do matter.


*In Litigation Release No. 21371 filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) on January 11, 2010, the SEC noted the following: “According to the SEC's proposed complaint, Bank of America executives at various times discussed the firm's disclosure obligations with internal and external counsel. These executives are not alleged to have deliberately concealed information from counsel or otherwise acted with scienter or intent to mislead. Nor is any counsel alleged to have acted with scienter or intent to mislead. For these reasons, the SEC's proposed complaint does not seek charges against any individual officers, directors or attorneys. SEC staff has advised the Commission that, after a careful assessment of the evidence and all of the relevant circumstances, it has determined that charges against individuals for their roles in connection with proxy disclosure are not appropriate.”

** On December 9, 2009, while Mr. Lewis was still CEO and President of Bank of America, the Company sent the U.S. Treasury $45 billion, including accrued dividends, to repay the U.S. taxpayers' entire investment in the company as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Joe Price, who is now the bank’s head of consumer banking, issued the following statement through his attorney, Bill Jeffress Jr.

The allegation that Mr. Price deliberately caused Bank of America to withhold from shareholders information they were entitled to know is utterly false. In truth, he did exactly what a responsible regulator would want and expect from a chief financial officer. He raised with the bank’s counsel, and with management both at the bank and Merrill Lynch, a concern whether existing public disclosures were adequate in light of what he leamed about projected losses for the fourth quarter at Menill Lynch. He made available to counsel all information believed by him or by them to be relevant to the issue. He listened to counsel’s advice, found it to be convincing, and followed it.

The complaint filed by the New York Attomey General makes allegations that are flatly contrary to the evidence and contrary to the conclusions of the Securities and Exchange Commission based on the same evidence. The Attorney General has misrepresented facts; he has selectively referred to facts thought to support his theory, while ignoring facts that contradict his theory; and he has drawn conclusions that a fair-minded regulator could not responsibly draw. Mr. Price denies the charges against him and will vigorously defend the lawsuit.

Read the complaint against BofA

Today, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed a 90-page complaint against Bank of America, former chief executive Ken Lewis and former Chief Financial Officer Joe Price over the bank's Jan. 1 acquisition of Merrill Lynch.
  • Read a PDF of the lawsuit here.
Read more from the Observer's Rick Rothacker here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Inside county's social media blitz

Thirteen twitter accounts and nine facebook pages prove it: Mecklenburg County's all in on social media.

County officials ushered in the new era this week - adopting a seven-page document entitled "Social Media Strategy." The move reflects a trend toward what some are calling the "splinternet," the buzzword for an increasingly fragmented audience.

Basically, folks are steering away from a centralized web presence toward individual devices and social networks. (This blog getting a lot of hits over the term.)

Says Mecklenburg County:

"Public use of the internet is shifting to an environment of personal choice for the channel, device and interaction modes that suit the individual’s specific needs and preferences. Gartner, a leading information technology research firm, asserts “traditional government content and services are unlikely to entice citizens accustomed to compelling content and services from private providers and to community interaction.”

Click here to read the full "Social Media Strategy."

Here's a link to the county's sites.

- Doug Miller