Monday, May 30, 2005

It's All Connected

As more reports look at who is involved in the Tennessee Waltz scandal, what strikes me is just how interconnected all these folks are. Roscoe Dixon, Kathryn Bowers and Barry Myers all have ties and mutual deals stretching back years. In a city as large as Memphis (including Shelby County) and a state as broad as Tennessee, the same names keep coming up over and over. It just reinforces the perception that a small group of people actually run the state.

Try these two stories from the Commercial Appeal, one looking at former State Senator Roscoe Dixon and the other at now-identified FBI informant and front man Tim Willis. See how many names all these folks have in common. Notice that there is a connection between Willis and the Shelby County Juvenile Court Clerk scandal of several years ago, involving Shep Wilbun, Darrell Catron (whose father is involved with Beale Street's management whose cousin Randle Catron is the President of Beale Street Development. Corrected at 9:45PM; thanks Thaddeus.) and Calvin Williams. (Williams has written a tell-all book he's been peddling around the local media for a few weeks. Will that book see the light of day now, after the indictments, or will it quietly disappear? A lot of reporters got a look at it and it was relentlessly hyped by television media for its explosive charges, but somehow those charges were never identified nor the alleged people involved named. Hmmmm....)

There's also the story on the Memphis Flyer website from the weekend about Tim Willis. Jackson Baker places Willis in context and inadvertantly shows how his past conviction may have been used by the FBI to pressure him to go along. They also print a long, unedited transcription of one talk between State Senator John Ford and Willis.

What caught my attention in the transcript was that Ford was clearly tipped off that something involving the FBI and E-Cycle was afoot. He suspected several months in advance. He says three different people warned him and that one was Roscoe Dixon himself. Given that East Tennessee Representative Chris Newton had, on Wednesday, quietly withdrawn the bill in question, Newton also knew. I had a report on a blog (I'm sorry I've since lost the link.) where someone described being in a grocery store line earlier this year and having a total stranger mention that John Ford was about to go down. The stranger said the FBI was about to move on him. This widening puddle of leakage may be why the indictments were unsealed when they were, on the last day of the legislative session.

Ford also talks about a mysterious "L.C." who was apparently involved, if I read this correctly, as someone with E-Cycle Management.

Ford also alludes to his Senate ethics investigation in a couple of ways. He states rather clearly that he's not at all worried about that investigation. (Remember, this was in February.) He seems to say that he's been told it will be quietly concluded.

Then Ford speaks about the difference between doing business in government and in the private sector. He flat says that he can make any agreement he wants and it's all above board. One is reminded of his contracts with OmniCare and Doral Dental, with their highly lucrative "consulting" work. Then he notes that with government, he has to be more circumspect and more quid pro quo. It's a fascinating view of how government works for some people.

I can see why the Feds released these tapes and transcripts. It completely pre-empts any efforts by Ford to spin or bluster his way out. Ford obviously sees himself so trapped that he's been forced to resign his Senate seat.

Strange days indeed.

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