Golden ‘Chutes

Golden ‘Chutes

Local IdleAire investors, hoping to make millions by being in on the ground floor, now face the prospect of getting screwed by the recent bankruptcy filing.

Some of them are puzzling over a Security and Exchange Commission filing before the bankruptcy that indicates insiders in the company were approved for golden parachutes of up to $1 million should the company reach a point where they can't sell their stock. (Holding stock in a bankrupt company would seem to qualify.)

This action was taken while the company was preparing for an initial public offering of its stock, which investors were told might make them millions. Many local investors got in for 60 cents per share. If the IPO had resulted in a quick jump in the stock price, then riches were just around the corner.

They are also wondering about that almost-immediate filing in Delaware of a new company called IdleAire Acquisition LLC, ready to bid on the $200 million in assets held by the company. And the company recently arranged a bridge loan that could keep it operating during the bankruptcy period, pending a liquidation or buyout.The estimated 1,500 local investors are last in line to receive any money from the liquidation of the assets.

He's Who?

A local car-for-hire driver picked up a stranger at the airport last week and on the way to town the guy kept talking on his cell phone—Hillary this, Hillary that. Could it be the guy was talking to or about presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton?

When he got home that night the driver googled "James Carville." And looking at the hits, as he explained to a friend, he just said, "Holy shit."

Carville showed up at the Truman Day for Knoxville Democrats being, well, James Carville—wearing jeans and tennis shoes with his white shirt and sport coat. He even waived half his fee since county Chair Don Daugherty got a mutual friend to make a personal plea on behalf of the local party.

While Carville was in town, Randy Neal, at the KnoxViews.com blog, scored the only in-depth interview with him. It was a thoughtful give and take on the presidential race and the future of the Democratic Party in which Carville avoided any "Bill Richardson is Judas" type remarks.

A crowd of 800 or 900 attended the event at the Knoxville Convention Center. Total receipts were still being tallied, but the party could net over $15,000 for the August election.

The dinner was also a showcase for Madeline Rogero; she was the only local featured speaker. Rogero has made it clear to insiders she is running for Knoxville mayor when current Mayor Bill Haslam's term is done.

Bob Tuke and Mike Padgett, running for the U.S. Senate, managed to whip up mild applause before Carville took the podium wearing an orange Peyton Manning jersey. Carville gave the crowd a comic monologue and threw down some red meat, blasting Republicans, Lamar Alexander and John McCain in particular. Carville said three special House elections recently won by Democrats is a telling sign Republicans will be in trouble in the fall.

The Neighbors' Preconceptions

The new issue of Oxford American, the well-regarded Arkansas-based quarterly, offers a few interesting Knoxville contributions. One is a short story by Knoxville writer Michael Knight called "Grand Old Party," a refreshing new take on the well-trodden subject of suburban adultery. An award-winning writer, Knight is director of UT's creative-writing program; his last book of short stories, The Holiday Season, earned plaudits in the New York Times Book Review.

The other appears in "Beyond Nostalgia: Contemporary architects select the best modern homes of the New South." Only 11 houses are profiled, and Tennessee is represented solely by the Jenkins House on Cherokee Boulevard. Designed by Ben McMurry Jr., of the firm Barber McMurry, in 1955, the house is notable for its projecting rectangular sunroom. The usually hard-to-please UT Professor George Dodds describes the house's steel and marble construction as a marriage of mechanization and art.