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Archive for July 1st, 2009

Diehl 1, NASCAR 0

Big surprise.

A federal judge has sided with driver Jeremy Mayfield in his bid to lift the suspension NASCAR placed on him following what NASCAR claims was a positive drug test for meth.

Brian France’s family biz botched this number from the start, first by failing to secure Mayfield’s sample in an air-tight, Bill Diehl-proof container. But that is a mere legalism. The bigger misstep was failing to immediately identify Mayfield’s admitted Adderall prescription as a de facto performance enhancing drug for race car drivers.

As I have suggested previously, I believe this is because other NASCAR drivers either tested positive for the amphetamine Adderall or proactively notified NASCAR of their use of the drug. The media’s failure to probe either of these possibilities is quite stunning, as NASCAR’s fumbling of its Mayfield response is clearly explained by wider Adderall use by NASCAR drivers.

As for the meth angle, Diehl predictably hit that one out of the park. NASCAR’s official position was that it took a urine sample to detect that Mayfield was a meth user. A guy driving 180-200mph for hours on end, was tweaked out of his brain, according to France and company. Mayfield is either the greatest trucker ever or — or NASCAR’s labs got this one wrong.

Still, the more pressing question is not if Mayfield improbably used meth and raced, but if additional NASCAR drivers used Adderall and raced. I feel even more like a crazy person than usual on this topic, something so obvious going so roundly ignored.

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The End Game for McClatchy

I am not going to pretend to know exactly what the future holds, but when Standard & Poor’s says MNI will default on its over $1b. in debt by early next year, I pay attention. This analysis comes on the heels of the company’s spectacularly unsuccessful attempt to re-work that debt, which resulted only in a fraction of the relief the MNI wanted. Case in point, the company wanted $60m. in cash, got $3.4m.

And cash is the great unknown going forward. Creditors could always rework terms, but you need cash-flow to keep the lights on and payroll checks clearing. Maybe that is the plan, to the extent MNI’s corporate leadership has one — ignore the debt, keep operations going as long as possible.

Might work. The entire country seems to be going that route, afterall.

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Audit the EpiCenter

The time has come. When you have folks owed money by contractors and contractors owed money and filing lawsuits, it is time for the city of Charlotte to step up and demand answers of its official partner in the EpiCenter project, Afshin Ghazi.

City officials cannot have it both ways — take tax dollars way from small businessmen and women like Rick Treadaway and Karen Codespoti, then not lift a finger when the recipients of those tax dollars fail to pay them. There is a certain plausible deniability to this set-up, but I want to hear Curt Walton, Mac McCarley, and the automatons on city council be that cynical on the record.

One thing is for certain, Ghazi is not talking. He is ducking reporters right and left. He’s got actual lawsuits seeking payment involving Golterman & Sabo Inc., Shiel-Sexton Inc., Cam-Ful Industries Inc., B&B Contracting Inc., and Southern Mechanical.

If I had put some of my money in the kitty to get EpiCenter off the ground and spent untold hours of effort making the project happen, precisely as the city of Charlotte as done, I’d be looking for answers too. But nope, not this bunch. We’ve got a NASCAR Hall of Fame to build.

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