Ancient trade secret, huh?

September 2nd, 2014

This is a couple of days old, but I was waiting to find a non-paywalled report.

Kreuz Market (yes, the barbecue place in Lockhart) is accusing a former employee of stealing trade secrets.

“It is believed that Thornton, at or just before the time he resigned from Kreuz, took possession of company documents, including company trade secrets, in paper form and/or by placing electronic versions on a flash drive or other devices,” a court document states. “It is further believed that Thornton deleted electronic copies of these documents from the Kreuz computer system so that such documents would no longer be accessible by Kreuz. Kreuz may have claims against Thornton for trade secret misappropriation, conversion and civil theft, among other claims.”

That’s pretty much the nut. The rest of the story is a decent overview of Kreuz Market history and expansion plans, probably worth reading if you don’t follow Texas barbecue obsessively.

(For my younger readers, subject line hattip.)

How ’bout those Astros?

September 1st, 2014

They’ve actually been doing better this year; the various sites I use have been projecting around 92 losses this season.

Better, but not better enough.

In a clear showing of who is in charge of the club, the Astros on Monday fired managed Bo Porter as well as bench coach Dave Trembley, just days after reports arose of tensions between Porter and his general manager, Jeff Luhnow.

Obit watch: August 30, 2014.

August 30th, 2014

Werner Franz passed away on August 13th at the age of 92, though his death does not appear to have been widely reported until now.

Mr. Franz is believed to have been the last surviving crew member of the Hindenburg.

At least one other survivor of the crash, Werner Doehner, who was 8 years old and traveling with his family at the time, is thought to be still living.

Obit watch: August 29, 2014.

August 29th, 2014

This has been circulating for a couple of days, but I wanted to wait until I was able to confirm it.

Jeremiah Healy, mystery writer.

I haven’t read any of the John Francis Cuddy mysteries, though they’ve been on my radar. Healy did one of the essays for In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero; it was…interesting. (That’s shorthand for “There was some good stuff in it, but I also had issues.”)

The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

TMQ Watch: August 26, 2014.

August 28th, 2014

Cowboys! Indians! Notre Dame! Da Bears! All in this week’s TMQ, after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »

Buddy watch.

August 27th, 2014

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, or if it is a well known fact, but former Providence mayor “Buddy” Cianci has his own line of marinara sauce, which is sold around the city. (At the time I was regularly in Rhode Island, he also had his own line of coffee, but I’m not sure if he still does.)

Profits from the Mayor’s Marinara go to a scholarship fund for kids.

But in recent years, no money from the sauce’s sales has been donated to Cianci’s charity scholarship fund, The Associated Press has learned. From 2009 to 2012, the sauce made a total of $3 in income, longtime Cianci adviser Charles Mansolillo told the AP.

The AP thought this story was so fantastic, they gave it a special award. I have some reservations about this:

In 2009, they lost $2,200 on the sauce, Mansolillo said. The following year, they made $2,974, while in 2011, they lost $2,969. In 2012, they made $2,198 profit, he said. That adds up to a profit of just $3 during the 4-year period.

Is it possible they weren’t making money because former Mayor Cianci was kind of out of the public eye during this period? (He got out of prison in 2007, and had some radio and television gigs, but I don’t know what kind of public visibility those brought him. At least one of the shows he hosted was the “weekend public affairs program” Four Leather Chairs Against a Blue Background On the Record with Buddy Cianci. What kind of ratings do those get?)

Cianci and Mansolillo said sales have been hurt in past years by mismanagement from some of the sauce’s previous distributors, one of which went bankrupt. During the time when Cianci was in prison from 2002 to 2007, the sauce sometimes was not on the shelves at all.

More:

Bob Borges, gourmet manager at Eastside Market in Providence, said the sauce sells well at his store, which goes through about a dozen 12-jar cases a month. He said he thinks first-time purchasers might buy it because they think sales are benefiting children, but they wouldn’t get the repeat sales they get unless it was good. They sell it for $5.69 per jar.

This story, for some reason, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. To be fair, though, there’s a related story by the same author that’s a little more interesting. You know that scholarship fund mentioned earlier?

Since 2008, the charity has spent no more than 2.7 percent of its assets annually on scholarships, and as little as 1.7 percent.

The charity’s IRS filings show that it had $434,126 in assets as of June 30, 2013, and received around $25,000 in investment income that year. It gave out $11,000 in grants and spent $32,061 total in expenses. The year before, it had $3,862 in revenue and gave out $12,000 in grants, and before that it received $10,972 in revenue and gave out $10,000 in grants.

I hate to keep sounding like Buddy Cianci’s defender. But if this is a scam, it seems to be a very penny-ante scam. It sounds like something that started out as a PR opportunity and went a little off the rails.

(ETA: Forgot to give Romenesko credit.)

Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. Poor guy.

August 27th, 2014

I’ve mentioned previously that I watched COPS on a regular basis, at least until it left Fox for the wilderness of basic cable. I’ll still watch it if I catch it on somewhere.

I remember seeing some fairly shocking and disturbing things during that time; fatal highway accidents, one carload of police officers (with a camera crew on board) being broadsided during a high-speed chase by another cop car. But I never thought anything like this would happen.

A crew member with the “Cops” television show was fatally struck by police gunfire as Omaha officers confronted a robber — who also was fatally wounded — at a midtown restaurant, law enforcement sources said Wednesday.

The robbery suspect apparently had an air gun, a type of BB gun that looks like an actual firearm. He apparently was a prison parolee from Kansas, law enforcement sources said.

The World-Herald claims that the police were the only ones shooting, and that “at least 30 shots” were fired during the incident.

I’m not sure what else I can say about this, other than it is sad and awful, and I’ll pass along any significant updates.

Busted, again.

August 26th, 2014

General hattip on all of this to Romenesko.

A while back, I wrote about Busted, Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Lasker’s book about their coverage of corrupt cops in Philadelphia. At that time, I asked what they had accomplished, given that the bad cops were still on the street.

Last week, the Philadelphia Inquirer (the other daily newspaper, and the one that got soundly beat by Ruderman and Lasker on the story) ran a piece “Why an accused Phila. officer is still on the force” purporting to answer the question of why Thomas Tolstoy hadn’t been fired yet, even though he’d been accused of sexually assaulting three women. There are various reasons, but the Inquirer‘s key one:

The documents also show that actions the victim ascribed to two Philadelphia Daily News reporters who wrote about her assault further undermined the criminal case by damaging her credibility and complicating a federal investigation.
The woman told investigators that the reporters – whose account of the assault and other police abuses would go on to win a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 – provided her with gifts, paid her bills, offered her money to hire a lawyer, and told her that she could collect a financial windfall if she talked to them and not to law enforcement officials, according to the documents.
She also told investigators that the reporters were aware that an associate of hers had pressured her to lie about the circumstances of the attack. And she said one of the reporters encouraged her to give an exaggerated account of the raid, saying it would help in a potential lawsuit.
The woman’s accusations of impropriety by the reporters – included in detailed interview summaries signed by FBI agents – imperiled an already precarious case, according to three high-ranking officials familiar with the investigation.

Uh-huh. Ruderman and Lasker deny this, of course. Ruderman has posted a response on Facebook. And it’s worth pointing out that these accusations only involve one of the three women, and have nothing to do with the separate allegation that Tolstoy was one of the cops caught on tape stealing from bodegas.

Philadephia magazine has published their own piece about the problems of the Inquirer story. Points:

Musical interlude.

August 26th, 2014

Because even old New York was once New Amsterdam.

Obit watch: August 26, 2014.

August 26th, 2014

Missed this over the weekend, but notorious Alaskan serial killer Robert Hansen descended into hell last week.

Bill James, in his book Popular Crime, devotes some space to Hansen and makes two good points:

  1. Hansen’s criminal career was largely symptomatic of the way the criminal justice system worked at the time:

    Robert Hansen was the end product of a criminal justice system that really didn’t want to convict people, a criminal justice system that had lost track of its responsibility to protect the public. But you know what? That was 30 years ago, when Hansen was running wild and nobody would step up to stop him. It was a long time ago. It isn’t that way anymore. The system has, to a large extent, healed itself.

    Specifically, Hansen had a long career, mostly involving petty theft but including some serious crimes against women. Yet somehow he managed to make the charges against him mostly disappear, and minimized the severity of the ones that remained. He was convicted of rape in 1971 and sentenced to five years in prison; Hansen was paroled after three months. And as far as I can tell, that, and a year and half for setting a school bus barn on fire when he was young, are the only time he did until his arrest for the killings; he was at one point sentenced to five years for stealing a chainsaw, but that sentence was overturned on appeal and he ended up on parole again.
    In short, the courts and the cops had plenty of opportunities to stop him before and while he was hunting women, and botched them all.

  2. Hansen, unlike many serial killers, was publicity shy. So much so that, according to James, he used that as a negotiating tool; “I’ll answer your questions about what I did, as long as you keep the press and the people writing books away from me.” This would explain why he wasn’t as well known as Bundy or Gacy, even though his crimes were equally sensational.

TMQ Watch: August 19, 2014.

August 21st, 2014

TMQ just seems to get longer and longer.

After the jump, this week’s TMQ

Read the rest of this entry »

Fair food watch.

August 20th, 2014

In case you were wondering what Fried Sriracha Balls look like, they are slide number 5 in this eight slide (Warning! Slide show!) slide show (Warning! Slide show!) from the HouChron.

See also this non-slide-show article from the Dallas Eater site, which has a better description of the funnel cake ale.

(Yes, I didn’t use the “on a stick” category. That’s because none of these items is actually served on a stick, which is a huge disappointment as far as I’m concerned.)