In the midst of a rush to judgement concerning Jimmy Haslam, perhaps we can take a step back this weekend. I’m not sharing any of the most common emotions I’ve seen expressed on this issue. I hope I’m not the only one.
What’s your deal Kanick? After all, you helped kick this off.
When news of this raid broke I came down hard on Haslam and PFJ. That was when I thought we were dealing with serious charges and naively thinking Justice was being used to effect a greater good. Now it just looks like a power play of dubious value and born of questionable motivation.
In Tuesday’s post, I explored any number of probable outcomes that would cause government armed forces to enter forcibly a private enterprise, confiscate property, and first confine, then eject workers from corporate buildings. IT. IS. A. SERIOUS. ASSERTION. OF. GOVERNMENT. AUTHORITY. Breaking into a place of business with weapons brandished should only be used for good reason. A ‘good reason’ being the serious criminal activities or white collar crimes on the scale of:
- Enron, $25,000,000,000 in assets;
- Lehman, $138,000,000,000 in Federally-backed advances;
- AIG, $150,000,000,000 in FRBNY exposure and the life-or-death of GE and GM held through their Credit Default Swaps.
Were public or stockholder monies of that scale at risk and so forcing the drastic intervention?
Nope. Hell, it couldn’t be a billion dollars, the company only made around $600,000,000 (against $29B in sales). Not AIG here.
Ok then, maybe we’re dealing with the sex-slavery trade known to occur at truck-stops; FBI has been trying to clean that up.
Bribing of public officials in return for sweetheart land development schemes?
What this raid was about (ostensibly) is your government prosecuting PFJ for shorting their customers in a rebate program. The sum total of the missing rebates is not known, Kanick wagers that it will be under $10,000,000 over five years.
Small potatoes. Small potatoes with just a whiff of caveat emptor that might apply to the customers; how do they not know what they’re supposed to be getting back?
A crime, to be sure. But there are levels of crime magnitude; discretion on what is and is not prosecuted; how the prosecution is executed. Discretion plays a key role; not everything is enforced in the same way. Anyone bet on the Masters last weekend? Ok, that’s almost all of you… anyone have 30 cops break in and take your hard drives? Right, thought not. Levels of magnitude. Prosecutorial discretion.
Was any used here?
The way this played out was the FBI scaring the shit out people who are pretty much just doing their job. (Even Haslam was rattled as you could tell when the ‘candidly’ meter clicked nine times yesterday.) The women pictured above are named prominently in the affidavit. One is the pricing coordinator, two are inside sales people who support outside reps. These are the people who actually applied the rebates. They’re the ‘good Germans’ who were ‘just following orders.’ Think that’ll fly with the FBI or AG? Think you’d feel good having your future held in the hands of either agency? I wouldn’t.
Bet these women never saw this coming when they got their jobs which I’m guessing pays south of 30k/yr.
Will they be charged? Do they get a pass? Who decides? Think they’re scared shitless? HELL YES. Intimidated? Yes. You think anyone in this transcript has ever seen the inside of a jail cell? Doubtful.
All these facets add up to easy intimidation targets for your FBI, your government.
Maybe these are things to consider before gleefully enjoying the take-down of just another ego-centric, NFL-team-owning plutocrat.
And what end is being served? Don’t kid yourself that the FBI is looking out for the poor little trucker. If they were, they could send a notice of action to PFJ and you’d have Jimmy stroking checks this weekend. This action this week will lead to a two year court proceeding and what will the little trucking firms get paid in this time? Zero.
That we’re even talking about PFJ rebates seems most peculiar. How did this get on the FBI’s radar? Why isn’t that in the probable cause affidavit? Shouldn’t it be? Otherwise, seems like the Justice Department can just go through yellow pages and scare the shit out people until they talk. Without any process or checks, there’s little difference between the power of the regional FBI Director and Lubyanka-era Beria.
Last point: If the FBI could enlist a CHS-2 in every Fortune 100 company and set him to work non-stop for six months attempting to trap his co-workers, every Fortune 100 company in the country could be subject to property and data confiscation. And to see how quickly these people are frightened by the FBI into full cooperation, you can see how it really wouldn’t be hard for the FBI to shut down any business in the country.
If you don’t have a problem with that, you really should.
More people withheld judgement on Shurmur.
Don’t let any issues of due process or concerns about FBI intimidation or stop for a minute to consider the potential abuse of power:
The Cleveland Browns fan is in HIGH DUDGEON.
My God. The humanity. The carnage. Jimmy Haslam, the FBI & the 158 Pages That Will Cost Him The Browns! Who knew that trucking companies had such champions in northeast Ohio? Oh wait. They don’t have a love for truckers.
Cheddar Frowns forum friend NeedsFoodBadly and I mixed it up yesterday and at one point he took offense to being accused of groupthink; that he thought for himself. I know this to be true of NFB. But my point behind the ‘groupthink’ is simply this: to my knowledge this is the first post raising any level of defense for a person who, in this country, is presumed innocent. Groupthink. If there has been a kind word said on behalf of Jimmy Haslam that has not come out of Knoxville, not come from a person who knows him, I’m looking forward to reading it. It’s the avalanche of knowing-ness, coupled with willful naïveté of how the world works in competitive sales businesses, that more than anything prompted me to take a second look at this.
(You weren’t in Cheddar, NFB? This year then?)
What I’ve determined, based on the reactions I see on the sites I visit, is that Northeast Ohio seems to have, and in abundance, a sense of righteousness married with a strong disdain for rich folks. Admittedly, it’s not a great job-creation strategy. But being outraged all the time… does it feel good? Is it a using-the-internet phenomenon? Are there quiet moments the next day where reflection and measured evaluations take root?
As a twitter-er given sometimes give to outburst (unintended) and hyperbole (intended), I know there are times I’d like a do over. But whenever I see such mass schadenfreude I wonder what went wrong and has it always been so. I do. I’m not a spiritual guy, but even so, it strikes me as perfectly un-Christian it is to take such joy in the hardship of others. Even –especially– the hardship of the guilty. Judge not lest ye be judged.
Can people really be so harsh when so many lives are being traumatized at PFJ? I don’t believe this.
Well, this is inconvenient.
I understand that larding up an affidavit with useless crap is a time honored legal traditional. But it’s going to get more and more awkward if media like the Plain Dealer follow up on every name entered (good job here, PD). For example here we find a PFJ victim who is not a victim:
Unlike Morehouse and Western, Owen Shrock said he did not notice a problem with Pilot Flying J. Then he saw his company’s name in the affidavit Friday morning.
“I had no idea,” said Shrock, the owner of Shrock Trucking of Springfield, Mo., a company with 51 trucks.
The document says sales officials at Haslam’s company wanted to change the price discount of the business without telling him. Shrock said that he has not found any financial irregularities and doubts Pilot Flying J shorted him.
So that’s weird. Here’s an ‘unsophisticated victim’ named in the warrant. He checked his record; he’s good. How many others are in this boat? Do we have to suffer all 100 pages of CHS-2 flagrant screwing of friends to find this data?
But just what was supposed to be the crime committed on Shrock Trucking? From the affidavit:
CHS-2: You know we were in, uh, I was riding with John, and Kevin Clark called me about Shrock Trucking.
CRUTCHMAN: Oh, that was .. that’s on the agenda. What about Shrock Trucking? Something about relationships?
CHS-2: Well, Ben was out with Todd Wilson.
CRUTCHMAN: Umm hmm.
CHS-2: And they came in and offered some stupid discounts. Uh, like in Oklahoma City all across forty and forty-four.
CRUTCHMAN: Right, right.
CHS-2: And basically what John said was.. I mean on the phone, I was on the phone on the phone, on my speaker phone in my car in Seattle, was we’ll match the discounts in certain places and then after about three or four months, change the discounts in some other places and hope they don’t catch ’em.
Whooaa!! What’s that? Matching a discount and then going back to normal price??
Yeah, get Holder on the line: we need to shut PFJ down. Spin up the Browns fans: we need to have about a dozen posts calling for Haslam to step down and bemoaning our station.
Or… and this is just me talking, take it for what it’s worth: know that this sort of thing goes on in most any company in a competitive market with a commissioned sales force and all you need is a willing CHS-2 to shut down almost any business in that category. Which reminds me…
Not for nothing, CHS-2 is a douche-bag, no?
For you ‘Get Jimmy’ folks who are still all angry and such as… how do you feel riding with CHS-2? How many taped convos did he have in the past six months? How many friends did he screw over? Do you really think his conscience was troubled by the ethical dilemmas here? Think he’s a Norma Rae for the 2010s do you?
It’s hard to pick the slimiest activity by CHS-2 but I’m going to go with ‘tricking the 25k/yr pricing coordinator.’ Here’s CHS-2 working with the patient and helpful and surely not well paid, Lori McFarland. Listen carefully and you’ll hear his Denzel-Washington-in-Philadelphia:
Okay, if you don’t mind, explain to me, like, I mean, I’ve always let Karen take care of everything and I don’t understand how, you know, the ins and the outs of our system, so we produce the discount sheets.
Clever guy, huh?
I won’t bore you, but suffice it to say,,, this was the first and only time any Regional Sales Manager took an interest in Lori’s Ascend database system and the conversation must have left her thinking, ‘That was weird’ and ‘CHS-2 an odd duck.’
This guy is calling up co-workers, and really, co-workers become friends, setting up meeting after meeting after meeting… expressly to trap his friends (trapping the women in the office mostly) and, if all goes well,,, send them to jail? What a guy. He’s either the worst kind of dick or something is being held over his head.
Truly a ‘family’ business.
Quick sidebar but worth noting:
One of the things that struck me in the affidavit was how small PFJ seems to be at the corporate HQ. I also took away that the workers were tight the with each other and it’s a good place to work. It seems a family business, on multiple levels. I’ve worked for this company or a clone of it. I know these people.
If I’m right about this, that Haslam runs a $29B business and is able to keep a family feel to it…? Well… salut Jimmy Haslam and well done.
Pre-emptive bag of SHHH.
To anyone contemplating a response along the lines of ‘Kanick condones fraud;’ sanctimonious proclamations about respect for the law; ‘What about sympathy for the victims?’ … here’s a youtube for you and it’s saying SHHH.
The point of this post is that whatever PFJ did, as per the warrant, it doesn’t rise to police state law enforcement tactics. These tactics are both the armed entry and the clear intimidation of their witnesses. This is not anything to cheer for me. I’m not even sure I’m issuing warrants if I’m the judge:
- This couldn’t be settled in a way that doesn’t devastate dozens of innocent people?
- Why is it you’re investigating PFJ FBI?
- How is it they got on your radar?
And the greater point is to stop and weigh more the impact this is having on the lives of many decent people. I know I have.