Pizza Chain Founder steps down

Staff & Wire Reports

FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, file photo, Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter attends a meeting in Louisville, Ky. Schnatter is apologizing after reportedly using a racial slur during a conference call in May 2018. The apology Wednesday, July 11, 2018, comes after Forbes cited an anonymous source saying the pizza chain's marketing firm broke ties with the company afterward. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, file photo, Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter attends a meeting in Louisville, Ky. Schnatter is apologizing after reportedly using a racial slur during a conference call in May 2018. The apology Wednesday, July 11, 2018, comes after Forbes cited an anonymous source saying the pizza chain's marketing firm broke ties with the company afterward. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)


Papa John’s says founder resigned as chairman of the board.

NEW YORK (AP) — Papa John’s founder John Schnatter has resigned as chairman of the board.

The company made the announcement late Wednesday, hours after Schnatter apologized for using a racial slur during a conference call in May.

Forbes said Schnatter used the N-word during a media training exercise. When asked how he would distance himself from racist groups, Schnatter reportedly complained that Colonel Sanders never faced a backlash for using the word.

In a statement released by Louisville, Kentucky-based Papa John’s, Schnatter said reports attributing use of “inappropriate and hurtful” language to him were true.

“Regardless of the context, I apologize,” the statement says.

The University of Louisville also said Wednesday that Schnatter resigned from its board of trustees, effective immediately.

Schnatter stepped down as CEO last year after blaming slowing sales growth on the outcry surrounding football players kneeling during the national anthem. He remains chairman of the company he started when he turned a broom closet at his father’s bar into a pizza spot.

Papa John’s shares fell nearly 5 percent Wednesday after the report, closing at $48.33.



By Robert C. Koehler

The Democrats have been in turmoil for the last half century and then some, when they abandoned their racist base and supported the civil rights movement.

Revved up by the spirit of the ’60s, the party began opening itself to further change, even daring to push beyond the financial interests of its controlling oligarchs and declare an opposition to war. “I have no secret plan for peace. I have a public plan,” George McGovern said during his 1972 presidential campaign … and that was that. After his crushing defeat, at the hands of Richard Nixon and his “Southern strategy,” the Dems quietly retreated. Their prevailing slogan ever since, whispered subconsciously, has been: We don’t stand for all that much.

The Dems are now Republican lite. They don’t have the will to disrupt anything that seems tried and true — such as, for instance, American exceptionalism and bloated militarism.

Even in the wake of George W. Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq, the Democrats opted for wimpiness as opposed to courage and sanity. They didn’t dare speak against it, or propose anything but a military path to “peace.” In his 2004 campaign, John Kerry stood thus on the war, as stated on his website: “The hard truth is that we know that more lives will be lost until the mission is truly accomplished.”

And what was that mission? “To create a stable democracy in Iraq.” Those were the words of Kerry’s media spokesperson, with whom I had an enormously frustrating conversation in the wake of a fundraising call I had received from the Kerry campaign.

That war is still quietly going on, fourteen years later. So are a few others. The planet is hemorrhaging refugees, thanks largely to these wars and to the savage inequality that remains the legacy of colonialism. We still have thousands of nuclear weapons ready, on command, to destroy the world. And climate change is stirring up chaotic conditions across the planet.

Now, more than ever, the whole of humanity needs leaders who can who can envision and articulate a global transition beyond war and dominance, beyond environmental exploitation, beyond policies and practices that dehumanize part of us and continue more of the same.

The Republicans, who know how to win elections, have served us up a president who is, for better and for worse, pretty much the exact opposite of this. Donald Trump doesn’t articulate a coherent vision for a sustainable and peaceful future, but he does mock the political status quo that has delivered us to our point of no return.

More precisely, what he mocks is the mask called political correctness, which has hidden the racism we became aware of fifty-plus years ago, which has continued, ever so quietly, to drive much of American politics. When Trump and his supporters cry “Make America Great Again,” they see an America free of the constraints of political correctness.

Trump brings us an America once again free to hate, belittle and stereotype … somebody. If not African-Americans, then Mexicans and Muslims and, well, Native Americans.

“Let’s say I’m debating Pocahontas, right?”

This, of course, is Trump talking about arch-nemesis Elizabeth Warren, at a rally of wildly cheering supporters last week in Montana. Oh, to be free of political correctness!

“I promise you I’ll do this, you know those little kits they sell on television for two dollars… . I’m going to get one of those little DNA kits, and in the middle of the debate, when she proclaims that she’s of Indian heritage because her mother said she has high cheekbones,” Trump joked to the delight of his overwhelmingly homogeneous audience.

“We will take that little kit … but we have to do it gently because we’re in the Me Too generation so we have to be very gentle. And we will very gently take that kit and we will slowly toss it to her. Hoping it doesn’t hit her and injure her arm, even though it only weighs about two ounces.”

The words are remarkably juvenile and clueless, the spew of a bully-bigot who happily mocks an entire people in order to toss a verbal dart at a political enemy. The laughter and applause from the crowd were, I’m certain, due far less to any animosity toward Warren than to sheer delight at the freedom to stereotype. Make America Great Again!

This is the same president who, in May, said of immigrants: “You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.”

As Annie Linskey noted in the Boston Globe: “And with Trump, pontification becomes policy.”

Shortly afterward, news of the Trump administration’s treatment of asylum seekers at the Mexican border — the separation of children from their families, putting children in “cages” — went global. And suddenly the treatment of immigrants dominates the news. The wars we wage, the horrors visited on civilian populations, have faded into invisibility, but a national compassion and outrage have broken loose about Trump’s border policies.

It’s almost as though this is a real democracy, at least on that issue.

All of which brings me back to the Democrats, who have one choice only in this year’s midterm elections, and in the presidential election of 2020: Put forth real values and run on a commitment to real change, a la Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the young Democratic Socialist who won a shocking upset victory in her congressional primary in the Bronx two weeks ago, and then this week won a second primary in her neighboring district as a write-in candidate. She wasn’t a candidate, but she won anyway.

This is what’s possible for Democrats who refuse to campaign as centrists: that is, as lite Republicans.

Robert Koehler, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.

Opinion: Mad Max and Others Out of Control

By Gregory Clay

She’s Mad Max. In your face.

That’s Maxine Waters, the liberal congresswoman from southern California.

Two weeks ago, she implored opponents of the Donald Trump administration to protest and confront members of his Cabinet wherever they encounter them. However, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer outright scolded Waters for her incendiary tone, in fact, using such adjectives as “uncivil” and “un-American” to describe the 80-year-old Waters.

That case of liberal Democrats butting heads resulted in a group of black female leaders blasting Schumer and Pelosi in a letter for not defending Waters.

This debate in regards to shaming publicly Cabinet members kicked off on June 19 when a mob of protesters heckled secretary of U.S. Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen at a Mexican restaurant in downtown Washington. She was forced to leave the restaurant, an incident vividly described in play-by-play fashion, including the protesters’ text messages calling for mobilization, in the Washingtonian magazine.

Now, we are at a point where we can’t disagree and break bread together. Literally.

A similar heckling incident involving White House senior adviser Stephen Miller occurred at another Mexican restaurant the same week in Washington. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was taunted by protesters outside a Louisville restaurant Saturday.

All of this begs the question: Do hecklers have the right to harass and attempt to evict a patron at a public establishment because of political beliefs?

Dr. Robert J. Cottrol says no.

Cottrol is the Harold Paul Green research professor of law at George Washington University; he also is a constitutional law expert.

Regarding heckling inside restaurants, Cottrol said: “I believe these activities are illegal. The people doing the harassment could — and in my view should — be subject to civil and potential criminal action. I believe that the restaurants could also be subject to civil action.”

All of this evokes two questions for Mad Max:

A. What happens if a staunch, conservative Republican approaches her in a public eatery and forcefully demands, “I want you out of this restaurant because I’m offended by your loudmouth liberal, Democrat politics?”

B. If that happens, will Waters employ race as a defense mechanism? Will she summon the two Roving Reverends of Recompense — also known as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson — to assist her in some sort of racial self-defense or even Black Lives Matter.

In other words, can Mad Max handle criticism in reverse? The great presidential philosopher Harry S. Truman often said in the 1940s and 1950s: “If you can’t take the heat, get the hell out of the kitchen.”

Note there is much kitchen and restaurant chatter these days in the nation’s capital — and it’s not about complimenting the chef or determining how much to tip the server.

Said Cottrol: “While a restaurant might have the right to refuse a customer service based on that individual’s political allegiances (this is in contrast to race or religion etc. and depends on public accommodations statutes in particular states/districts), once a restaurant has agreed to serve a patron, it has the obligation of ensuring that the patron gets to enjoy the quiet enjoyment of his/her meal. The restaurant, in my view, would be obligated to stop the harassment, and if the restaurant did not have the physical resources to do so, would be obligated to call the police.”

Ah, the ambiance of enjoying a good meal. How novel.

Still, who is really being intolerant here in these ridiculous incidents? Is it Nielsen because of her Trumpian policies or is it the protesters disrupting her meal in a popular Washington restaurant, mere blocks from the White House?

In any regard, “tolerance” has become a political term these days.

And now that we know Donald Trump has chosen Ivy-League-educated appellate court judge Brett Kavanaugh (also known as “Coach K”) to replace the retiring Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, the liberal-on-conservative confrontations undoubtedly will magnify and multiply. You also can expect Kavanaugh to be harassed in public arenas, even though he doesn’t appear to be totally far-right, unlike Supreme Court candidate Amy Coney Barrett.

Remember, the Democratic base, obviously desperate and panicky because of the new transformative, conservative makeup of the high court, thanks to Trump, has demanded massive resistance, essentially by any means necessary.

Therefore, if Waters’ calls for public harassment lead to violence or riots, then will she be held accountable? Many liberals blame Trump for inciting anger, bigotry, public incivility. So, will those same liberals blame Waters if public ugliness breaks out? Or will hypocrisy rule the roost?

And that hypocrisy issue, of course, surfaces when getting in someone’s face.


Gregory Clay is a Washington columnist and former assistant sports editor for McClatchy-Tribune News Service. He wrote this for

Opinion: Small Businesses Needed Health Care Relief

By Joseph Semprevivo

The Department of Labor recently published its final Association Health Plan (AHP) rule, which is poised to slash health care costs for businesses nationwide.

The department’s AHP reform expands health insurance options for small-business owners and their employees by making it easier for them to form cost-saving associations, which reduce administrative costs and reward small businesses with more choices in the marketplace. As the department explained, AHPs “strengthen employers’ negotiating power with providers from larger risk pools and greater economies of scale.”

Moreover, AHP reform exempts many employers from some of the Affordable Care Act’s most costly mandates. In Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta’s words: “Many of our laws, particularly Obamacare, make health care coverage more expensive for small businesses than large companies. AHPs are about more choice, more access and more coverage.”

He’s right. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the new rule will provide health insurance to 4 million Americans, including 400,000 who are currently uninsured. Employers and employees, meanwhile, are expected to see lower health care costs and higher cash flows.

This is a win-win for working Americans. For too long, Obamacare saddled businesses with burdensome regulations that did nothing to rein in premium increases and other health-related costs. In fact, premiums have only skyrocketed under Obamacare. Look no further than small businesses themselves: According to a recent Job Creators Network poll, 77 percent of small-business owners expressed concern about rising health care costs.

For good reason. Premiums for many Obamacare plans are projected to increase by nearly 40 percent this year. Small businesses have been grappling with premium hikes since the law’s inception. Virginia-based Workshop Digital’s premiums are rising by 55 percent this year. New York’s W.H. Christian, a clothing supplier, has seen health care costs increase between 150 percent and 180 percent over the last decade.

Being in business and paying for health care are extremely difficult tasks to juggle. To insure my family, I pay $33,000 a year. That’s right: For my family alone. Then there are my employees: Even though I pay 50 percent of my workers’ premiums, all of them have dropped their health coverage in recent years because they simply can’t afford it.

Fortunately, AHP reform shines a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Introducing my small business and countless others to association plans essentially allows us to negotiate for better and cheaper health care. As a group of employers joining together for health insurance grows larger, health insurance providers are more likely to reduce rates because they’ve gain accessed to more consumers.

When health care costs go down, the U.S. economy reaps the benefits. As a small business owner, I’m determined to reward my employees and serve my customers. If I can save money on health insurance, then I have more resources left over to give out pay raises and bonuses, expand my business operations domestically and intentionally, and ultimately boost the customer service experience.

In America, there are more than 30 million small businesses that employ 60 million workers — half of the U.S. workforce. Cut their costs, and they’re suddenly better-equipped to support their local communities and grow the economy writ large.

I applaud the Labor Department for helping small businesses — and the people they serve.


Joseph Semprevivo is president and CEO of Joseph’s Lite Cookies in Florida. He is an adjunct professor of finance, real estate and insurance at Indian River State College. He wrote this for

Llewellyn King: The Case for Saving Nuclear Is Not the Case for Saving Coal

By Llewellyn King

Coal and nuclear power have been yoked together for decades. Nuclear power and nuclear science have both paid the price for this double harness. Now it looks as though nuclear will pay again.

The electric utilities in the 1950s and 1960s were faced with runaway demand for electricity as air conditioning was deployed and new home construction boomed. This was before acid rain became a problem and when global warming was just a minor scientific theory.

As the utilities struggled to deal with electricity demand that was doubling every 10 years, nuclear appeared as the brave new fuel of the future. They loved nuclear, the government loved nuclear and the public was happy with it.

So, utilities went hellbent into nuclear: In all, starting in the 1950s, utilities built over well over 100 reactors for electricity production.

Then opposition to nuclear began to appear, at first in the late 1960s and then with intensity through the 1970s.

Horror stories were easy to invent and hard to counter. Being anti-nuclear was good for the protest business. The environmental movement — to its shame — joined the anti-nuclear cavalcade. Indeed, in the 1970s and 1980s, environmentalists were still hard against nuclear. They advocated advanced coal combustion, particularly a form of coal boiler known as “circulating fluidized bed.”

For their part the utilities defended nuclear, but never at a cost to coal. They were worried about their investments in coal. They would not, for example, sing the safety, reliability and, as it was then, the cost-effectiveness of nuclear over coal.

They said they were for both. “Both of the above” meant that the nuclear advocates in the industry could not run serious comparisons of nuclear with coal.

Now the Trump administration is seeking that history repeat itself. To fulfill the president’s campaign promises to the coal industry and to try to save coal-mining jobs, the administration is invoking national security and “resilience” to interfere in the electric markets and save coal and nuclear plants, which the utility industry is closing or will close.

The predicament of these plants is economic; for coal, it is economic and environmental.

Both forms of electric generation are undermined by cheap natural gas, cheap wind power and cheap solar power. In a market that favors the cheapest electricity at the time of dispatch, measured to the second, these plants do not cut it financially. The social value or otherwise is not calculated.

The fight between coal and nuclear, and more realistically between nuclear and natural gas, misses the true virtue of nuclear: It is a scientific cornucopia.

Nuclear science is reshaping medicine, enabling space travel and peering at the very nature of being. In 100 years, nuclear science will be flowering in ways undreamed of today. A healthy nuclear power industry grows the nuclear science world, brings in talent.

Even without the science argument, there is a case for saving the nuclear plants: They produce about 20 percent of the nation’s electricity without hint of carbon effluent, which gas cannot say.

A fair market allows for externalities beyond the cost of generation and dispatch at that second. Clean air is a social value, scientific progress is a social value, and predicting the life of a plant (maybe 80 years) is a social value.

Natural gas, the great market disrupter of today, does not meet these criteria.

As electricity is unique, the national lifeblood, it deserves to be treated as such. That cries out for nuclear to be considered for a lifeline in today’s brutal market.

If it embraces a long-term solution through carbon capture and use, then coal may hold a place in the future. But the industry is cool to this solution. Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corporation, denounced it to me.

The administration has put money into a new nuclear through incentives and subsidies for small modular reactors even while linking established nuclear to the sick man of energy, coal.

Electricity is a social value as well as a traded commodity. The administration is working against itself with its coal strategy.


Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS. His email is He wrote this for

FILE – In this Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, file photo, Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter attends a meeting in Louisville, Ky. Schnatter is apologizing after reportedly using a racial slur during a conference call in May 2018. The apology Wednesday, July 11, 2018, comes after Forbes cited an anonymous source saying the pizza chain’s marketing firm broke ties with the company afterward. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File) – In this Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, file photo, Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter attends a meeting in Louisville, Ky. Schnatter is apologizing after reportedly using a racial slur during a conference call in May 2018. The apology Wednesday, July 11, 2018, comes after Forbes cited an anonymous source saying the pizza chain’s marketing firm broke ties with the company afterward. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

Staff & Wire Reports