Topics:
Wed
Mar 14 2007
12:38 pm

We just got word that someone important who you probably never heard of died suddenly at his home in Winter Park, FL last night at the age of 72.

Ken Kirchman founded Florida Software back in 1968, basically on his kitchen table, to provide software for banks. He was a pioneer in the industry, and practically invented the packaged banking software business. The company grew and later became The Kirchman Corporation. If you write a check or make a deposit, especially at a community bank, chances are good that your transaction gets handled at some point by software created by his company or one of the many other independent companies it spawned.

He had only recently sold his company and retired. (He made a solemn vow that he would never take it public.) He kept his Citation corporate jet and private lake retreat, but only got to enjoy the fruits of his labor for three short years.

I worked for him off and on for eleven years. It was hard work, and he was a tough SOB. But he had a profound influence on me, and the Mrs., in the business world and personally, and is responsible, indirectly and directly in many ways, for bizgrrl and me starting our own successful company.

Everyone in the industry has a Ken Kirchman story, some not so flattering (he was known by some in the business as the "George Steinbrenner of software"). I've got stories I could tell, too. But I would rather remember him as a self-made, brilliant businessman who did everything his way, and also his generosity that helped make plenty of millionaires along the way.

I remember flying with him in first-class to Tokyo for a tough negotiation with the head of a huge Japanese computer company. He brought along a bunch of fishing supply catalogs, and we compared notes on our favorite bass lures as he put together an order. He got into a heated discussion with another executive about the best way to sharpen knives, axes, and saws. He quoted books he owned on the subject.

(He was the quintessential Florida Cracker when he wasn't attending "Pioneer" meetings with the first President Bush at the White House or meeting with heads of state in the Czech Republic to work out a deal to modernize their banking system in the post-Soviet era.)

Then there were the many trips on the gilded corporate jet -- the only way to fly. One time he let us grubby programmers use it to fly some tapes directly to a beta user site at 2:00 AM on a Saturday morning so they could get their bank open on Monday. Another time, he let the president of a customer bank use his jet to fly to the Mayo Clinic for cancer treatments.

I will also remember the awesome user conferences he held in Orlando for our customers. Year after year we had speakers like Tom Peters (In Search of Excellence) and entertainment like Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick. All employees and their families were invited to attend.

Then there were the legendary annual company picnics at his private lake retreat. He brought in an entire county fair with midway rides and carnival games. Every kid was guaranteed to win as many huge stuffed animal prizes as they could carry home. He had a runway there, and he would have his pilot, a Korean War veteran fighter pilot, buzz the venue in his jet and put on a little air show for the kids. Then there was the Orlando Arena skybox, where every employee got a chance to attend Orlando Magic NBA basketball games in open-bar, catered luxury. And so on.

But mostly I remember the hard work, the long, 24 hour days, the blood, sweat, and tears that went into creating a groundbreaking new system for community banks that eventually matured enough to run some of the biggest regional banks in the country, and everything I learned from him and all the talented people he employed.

One of my prized possessions is a Rolex watch given to me by Mr. Kirchman in March of 1984 on completion of that project, my first with the company. On the back, the engraving says "Dreams Can Be Reality".

Thanks for everything, Mr. Kirchman. Rest in peace.

Topics:
154
like
Wed
Mar 14 2007
11:48 am

I bought several copies of this book for Christmas gifts. Steve in the manager of the McClung Collection of the Knox County Library and a very interesting guy.

Author Steve Cotham to be at Blount County Public Library

Local author, Steve Cotham, will present slides and discuss his new book, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, at the Blount County Public Library on Monday, March 19 at 7:00 p.m. The program will be co-sponsored by the library along with the Blount County Genealogical and Historical Society and Blount County Historic Trust organizations.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a part of Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America Series.” The author draws from many sources, especially the photographs of early park supporter James E. (Jim) Thompson, to provide readers a first-hand look at the beauty of the mountains, early park promoters, the logging companies, and at the people who gave up their homes and way of life to make room for the park. In addition, the book contains several images from the W. O. Garner Collection owned by the Blount County Public Library.

Continued...

54
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Wed
Mar 14 2007
11:37 am

The Maryville Daily Times reports that the Alcoa City Commission unanimously agreed to a resolution opposing AT&T's efforts to pass a state-wide cable franchise law. City Manager Mark Johnson gets it right:

The point is, he said, that other cable companies have dealt with individual municipalities in the past, and have done so successfully.

[..]

As argued in Alcoa's resolutions, the city has taken the stance that giving AT&T that kind of broad access to the market would be unfair to the companies that have gone out and gotten franchise agreements (600 of them across the state). And worse, Johnson said, it would allow AT&T and other companies the ability to "cherry-pick" who they wanted to provide service to.

If a company comes in to Alcoa to provide cable service today, they have to offer the same rates, packages and options to every person in the city. If AT&T's proposed legislation goes through, the fear is they could only set up service in wealthier neighborhoods and leave others without anything, Johnson said.

The article also presents AT&T's arguments for passage of the lobbyist-crafted bill which is pending in the Tennessee General Assembly. Noting that 11 other states have passed the bill, the AT&T spokesperson says "Eleven states can't go wrong."

Previous posts about this issue:

Rural broadband v. state-wide franchising lobbyists

Legislative Roundup: Broadband access

107
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Wed
Mar 14 2007
11:21 am

After reading tamara's post about how people in her neighborhood questioned the logic of a black family moving to there to access "their" school and the subsequent, inevitatble "racial incident," This becomes a seminal read. Of course, by pointing out bigotry, you are killing the American spirit by impugning others rights to be evil. You hate America!

43
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One of the worst decisions by Mayor Haslam and his administration was the approval and installation of Redflex Red Light cameras. But much worse than that decision was the decision not to change the Yellow Light timing to ensure traffic safety.

Whether this was oversight, incompetence, or greed will be difficult to ascertain. The engineering department of the City of Knoxville has stated it is too expensive to change the Yellow Light timing. Some think it is about the money. The Redflex system has already earned over two million dollars with a portion of that money going to the City of Knoxville.

One man has decided to go over the head of the Haslam administration and take this to the Tennessee General Assembly. That man is Rep. Joe McCord, the Republican from Maryville. Rep. McCord has introduced a bill that will require Yellow Light durations to be set at 5 seconds at all intersections where cameras are set up to photograph motorists.

In a story in today’s News Sentinel McCord was reported as saying, “he has heard reports that the yellow lights on Knoxville's monitored intersections are set at 3 seconds to boost ticket revenue."

Thank you Joe McCord for standing up for the people that have to drive on Knoxville’s streets. The first goal should be safety not revenue.

Rep. McCord’s bill mandates, “that the yellow, or caution, light be set at 5 seconds at all intersections where cameras are set up to photograph motorists. Another portion of the bill would forbid local governments from contracting with private companies to operate red light camera systems.”

Effectively this would end the contract between Redflex and the City of Knoxville.

I wonder if the Yellow Light duration will be changed now? Well Mayor, what do you think?

132
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Wed
Mar 14 2007
10:33 am

The facts are in and the debate is over, according to noted climatologist Ann Coulter:

Even right-wingers who know that "global warming" is a crock do not seem to grasp what the tree-huggers are demanding. Liberals want mass starvation and human devastation.

[..]

There are more reputable scientists defending astrology than defending "global warming," but liberals simply announce that the debate has been resolved in their favor and demand that we shut down all production.

It gets even better, especially the part where she explains how global warming is a liberal plot to destroy the human race (no, seriously) and compares Al Gore to Stalin and Hitler. At any rate, I'm convinced by her compelling scientific arguments. How about you?

(By way of Clark Stooksbury, who reads Town Hall so you don't have to.)

55
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Wed
Mar 14 2007
10:07 am

Steve at WhitesCreek sums up the latest administration scandal:

Now we find out that the Bush Administration has been using the Federal Prosecutors' offices to implement phony voter fraud investigations against Democrats and only Democrats. 80% of Federal Prosecutor investigations have been against Democrats. 20% against Republicans. How many Democrats have been charged as a result?

Zero!

The rest of it a powerful indictment of the media's complicity, so you ought to go read it.

More on the growing scandal...

C.E. Petro:

There is a difference of changing prosecutors at the beginning of your term and purging prosecutors that wont' play ball by your rules 2 years into your second term.

Egalia:

Bush had nothing to do with this! He was seen napping at the time.

Bill Scher:

This is an extension of the conservative project to cripple the civil service that I've talked about here before, so our government no longer adheres to facts, follows the law and serves the public.

The idea is to put more power in the hands of political appointees, hacks blindly loyal to the President, who can ram through an agenda regardless of the law and the facts.

Think Progress:

In emails released today, we learned that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ chief of staff Kyle Sampson wrote then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers in Sept. 2006 and identified McKay as one of five U.S. attorneys “we should now consider pushing out.” That same month, Miers interviewed McKay for a federal judgeship position and asked him to explain why he had “mishandled” the governor’s race. By December, McKay had been fired and denied the federal judgeship. Shortly afterwards, a Gonzales aide called McKay to offer him a deal: “you stay silent and the attorney general won’t say anything bad about you.”

It just never seems to end with these guys. Better hurry. though. America's big Going Out of Business Sale ends Jan. 20, 2009.

55
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Tue
Mar 13 2007
11:56 pm
By: michael kaplan  shortURL

Knoxville, Tenn. -- Knoxville peace and anti-war activists will participate in a national action on Saturday, March 17, marking the fourth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq and protesting the continuing war and occupation. Events will begin locally with a rally at West Hills Park on N. Winston Road (behind the YMCA) at 12 noon and culminate in a public demonstration at Kingston Pike and Morrell Road near West Town Mall from 2 pm to 4 pm.

Read more after the jump...

Continued...

Looking for thoughts on two local school districts and areas to live - Oak Ridge and Maryville. I've been in the Knoxville area less than three years and live in Halls. The WalMart-Home Depot behemoth going up (thanks for nothing, MPC & political enablers / hacks that ignored local residents) made me think about moving, and since I have three (soon to be four) young children, I thought I'd take the opportunity to move into the best local school district. Thankfully the cost of housing isn't a barrier to moving into Oak Ridge or Maryville. (Not interested in Farragut / West Knox)

So, what's your take? Looking for non-biased (and biased!) thoughts on education and the quality of life in those two districts. I'd especially love to hear from those who moved from one of those places to the other.

Thanks!

52
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Tue
Mar 13 2007
10:34 pm

Viacom is suing Google over the use of unauthorized Viacom content on YouTube, which Google recently purchased. Mark Cuban, among others, predicted massive lawsuits over YouTube's copyright violations once Google's bank accounts became involved.

In other recent Google legal news, Google lost a case in Belgium which claimed that Google News violated newspaper's copyrights. However, Google won a case in which the U.S. court found that Google's choice of ads to display constituted protected speech and that Google could therefore choose not to run certain ads.

Incidentally, some of the Slashdot comments on Google cases were like these:

Continued...

Topics:
52
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Tue
Mar 13 2007
07:49 pm

This is huge, actually.

Now if only we can bring Democracy to America! After centuries, the Brits have voted to elect their OTHER house. The Aristocracy losing ground over there, much like Republicans in the US.

Uh...You guys already saw this on network news, right?

Hmmm....

47
like
Tue
Mar 13 2007
05:10 pm

Army Corp of Dunces!

New pumps were installed for the 2006 hurricane season. They are just now getting around to announcing the pumps are defective. In less than 3 months the hurricane season will be upon us again.

...the Corps and the politically connected manufacturer of the equipment are still struggling to get the 34 heavy-duty pumps working properly.

The pumps are now being pulled out and overhauled because of excessive vibration, Corps officials said. Other problems have included overheated engines, broken hoses and blown gaskets, according to the documents obtained by the AP.

$26 million down the drain?

... MWI is owned by J. David Eller and his sons. Eller was once a business partner of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a venture called Bush-El that marketed MWI pumps. And Eller has donated about $128,000 to politicians, the vast majority of it to the Republican Party, since 1996, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

MWI has run into trouble before. The U.S. Justice Department sued the company in 2002, accusing it of fraudulently helping Nigeria obtain $74 million in taxpayer-backed loans for overpriced and unnecessary water-pump equipment. The case has yet to be resolved.

Can it get any worse? Yes, I'm sure.

53
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Tue
Mar 13 2007
01:21 pm

Who is IAP Worldwide Services and what are they doing for to our government?

Also, Sue Sturgis writes on how new Medicaid rules aimed at preventing enrollment by illegal immigrants are shutting out eligible U.S. citizens. Do you know where your birth certificate is?

53
like
Tue
Mar 13 2007
11:56 am

A payday lender trade group launches a $10 million PR campaign to rehabilitate their image. In their TV commercials, they say “Please borrow only what you feel comfortable paying back when it’s due.”

Consumer advocates, however, note that they still charge up to 400% interest and aren't impressed with this newfound sense of responsibility...

Continued...

65
like
Tue
Mar 13 2007
11:03 am

Subversive elements have hijacked Michael Silence's blog and turned it in to All Al Gore, All the Time!

50
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Tue
Mar 13 2007
09:06 am
By: Sandra Clark  shortURL

Interested in the relative "state of the party" when Chad Tindell left as Knox County GOP chair in March 2005 versus when Brian Hornback left last Saturday?

Check out (link...)

Short version: Chad left almost $18,000 in the treasury; Brian left $309. -- s.

45
like
Mon
Mar 12 2007
08:04 pm

I missed the original airing, but the recent Van Morrison appearance on Austin City Limits is set to replay on PBS at 10 PM, at least on the Charter HD PBS channel.

Topics:
54
like
Mon
Mar 12 2007
03:40 pm

I would like to call your attention to an upcoming conference, "Plain Talk on Quality Growth". The Honorary Chairman for the conference is Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr. The keynote address will be given by Daniel Williams, Fellow of the AIA. Attending as a special guest will be Governor Phil Bredesen. Other national and state leaders in the area of community planning and growth will also take part as speakers and panelists.

There will be a free public lecture and planning discussion on Thursday evening, March 29, 2007 at 6:30 p.m. at the University Center. The conference will be all day on March 30, 2007 at the Knoxville Convention Center. For more information on registration, please go to (link...).

55
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Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding.

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