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Friday, January 31, 2014

I guess it doesn't hurt to ask!

gpsinsight.com

Driver Seeks HOS Exemption

Article thanks to truckinginfo.com Link provided below:
Dec 17, 2013  A team driver based in Washington state has asked for an exemption to the hours-of-service rule for himself and his co-driver.
David Muresan, who said in his application that he drives for CRST, wants the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to let him drive between 3 and 11 hours at a time, followed by 2 to 10 hours of rest.
Drivers are now limited to 11 hours of driving after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Drivers using the sleeper berth provision must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the berth, plus 2 consecutive hours either in the berth or off-duty.
Muresan wants more control over his time. “I will drive only after I will have enough rest,” he said in his application.
He also proposed that his co-driver not have the authority to order him to drive if he does not want to, and that he be allowed to keep a paper log, rather than an electronic one.
He contends that this approach will improve the efficiency and safety of team operations. Because the driver has the authority to say when he will drive, he can get back behind the wheel when he is rested and not hours after that, Muresan said.
FMCSA published the application in the Federal Register and is looking for comments, steps it said it is required to take.
In his application Muresan said he works for CRST, listing the telephone number of CRST Expedited. A call to the company had not been returned as this story was posted. Muresan did not answer a call to his listed number.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wisconsin - Minnesota Drone Beer Deliveries

GISuser.com

Lakemaid Beer Tests Drone Delivery on Frozen Northern Lake.

This is so cool! You've got to watch the video at the bottom. Article thanks to GISuser.com Link provided below:

What’s a beer company to do when it realizes its customers are located in isolated ice fishing shacks miles away from the nearest liquor retailer… and they’re thirsty?
“Our initial tests on several mid-size lakes have been very successful. We’re looking forward to testing the range of our drones on larger lakes.”
Most beer companies would give up. But not Lakemaid Beer, the Fishermen’s Lager. Having recently launched its new Lakemaid Frosty Winter Lager, the perfect beer for ice fishing season, Lakemaid Beer has turned to new technology to meet the needs of its thirsty customers.
The answer: the Lakemaid Beer Drone.
Inspired by Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, which has been testing the drone delivery of its products, Lakemaid Beer has been testing a new drone delivery system on some of the top ice fishing lakes in Minnesota and Wisconsin. A new video of its test is available at LakemaidBeer.com.
“Amazon faces a lot of obstacles,” said Lakemaid Beer Company’s president, Jack Supple. “Dense urban locations present a host of problems to drone delivery. But our tests are on vast, wide-open frozen lakes free of trees and power lines. Our drone can fly as the crow flies, straight to our target, based on GPS coordinates provided by an ice angler. Fish houses are very uniform in height, so we can fly lower than FAA limits, too.”
“It’s the perfect proving ground for drone delivery,” said Supple, “Our initial tests on several mid-size lakes have been very successful. We’re looking forward to testing the range of our drones on larger lakes.”
“We’d be happy to share our research with Amazon,” Supple added.
It may be awhile before Lakemaid Beer can officially deliver its beer by drone. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) currently restricts the commercial use of drones by small businesses, and remote verification of the legal drinking age of ice anglers will need to be addressed. The FAA is expected to issue new regulations governing the commercial use of drones by 2015.
“Our customers, distributors and retailers appreciate the extra effort we’re willing to go to get Lakemaid Frosty Winter Lager to them,” said Supple. “Even if our customers are located 4 miles out in one of the 5,500 ice shacks on Lake Mille Lacs (one of Minnesota’s largest lakes).”
To learn more about Lakemaid Beer, the official beer of Rapala, visit http://www.lakemaidbeer.com.

http://www.gisuser.com/content/view/32006/2/



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Don’t try this driving trick at home … or anywhere else

Thanks to Max Heine and Overdriveonline.com Links provided: Anyone who’s ever driven on ice knows that helpless moment when you realize you’ve lost control. When that round thing you’re gripping so tightly might as well be a toy.
So it’s easy to appreciate the finesse with which this driver for Roald-hus, a Norwegian company, manipulates his straight truck on a slick road.
http://www.overdriveonline.com


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Classic Car Stories - My Hemi Chrysler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/gertl/4900752674/
All during my teenage years, I was a big fan of Chrysler products. About 1962, my dad bought a used 1957 Chrysler New Yorker with a 392 cubic inch hemi motor in it, so I naturally was really into the Mopar stuff! My best friend's dad owned a Ford, so he was a Ford guy and I was all Mopar. 

The New Yorker was the family car for several years and I kind of "inherited" it when I got my drivers license at 16 and my dad bought another 1957 Chrysler, this one a more luxurious Imperial with leather seats, power windows and the same 392 hemi motor in it. For 1957 the 392 cubic inch hemi came standard with a Carter 4-barrel carburetor and was rated at 325 horsepower. There was an optional dual 4-barrel setup offered on the Chrysler 300 that upped the horsepower to 375. The 1957 models also came with the TorqueFlite 3-speed push button automatic transmission and a Torsion bar suspension called Torsion-Aire that gave smoother handling and ride quality to the car. The '57 was also offered as a convertible and they are extremely rare (only about 1,000 produced).
The actual car!

Unfortunately, the New Yorker was pink with a white top! I remember my reaction the first time I saw the car. My mom and us kids were at my Aunt and Uncle's house visiting when my dad called and said he had bought a car. He announced that he was going to drive it over to pick us up and I was eagerly watching out the front window to see when he pulled up. Eventually he drove up in this huge 4-door sedan that was PINK with a white top. I was horrified! But my dad was so proud of his purchase. The car was actually so long that it would not fit in our garage on 19th and Chambers in Milwaukee! Dad had to extend the door hinges out a few inches in order to squeeze it in. He bought it from a retired couple and it was a very low mileage car. I think my dad's taste in car colors was questionable at the time. The Imperial he bought was kind of a weird burnt orange color with a white top!

Eventually, getting older and used to the color, I was very  impressed when I found out what was under the hood. That big car had a huge amount of torque and horsepower compared to the cars of it's day, and could bury that 120 MPH speedometer needle with no problem! If you gave it much more than half throttle starting out from a stop it would squeal the tires. The car had dual exhausts and I installed some chrome tips as well as “Hemi Powered” stickers to put on the sides. My dad was pretty amused and just shook his head! You wouldn't believe how many times I had to open the hood to prove to someone that there really was a hemi under there!

Dad lost his sense of humor though, after I discovered how to do "power-stands". That is when you brake with your left foot while flooring the throttle, thereby doing a very smokey burnout of the rear wheels. I was doing this in front of our high school one day, showing off and broke a u-joint! My dad came and we towed it to our neighbor's house, who was a mechanic. I had told my dad that the u-joint had just "come apart". Well, after the mechanic inspected it, he set my dad straight on what actually happened and I thereafter had to make payments to my dad for the repair bill! 
detroitdemigod.deviantart.com

I happily drove that car for quite a while, until 1970, when an electrical short under the dash burned all the wiring up while it was parked at the Clark gas station I worked at. That was the end, we had to tow it out to the junkyard. The motor was still running fine, I'm sure some drag racer ended up rebuilding it and had a lot of fun. Those motors became very popular drag racing engines in future years.

Other of my car story posts:
Classic Car Stories:1970 Pontiac GTO - Dick Hands me the Keys!
Classic Car Stories: My Buddy's 1968 Plymouth GTX
Classic Car Stories: My Hemi Chrysler
Classic Car Stories: My 1965 Buick GS400
Classic Car Stories: Mopar Man to Chevrolet
Classic Car Stories: My Second Corvette
Classic Car Stories: My First Corvette
Classic Car Stories: My 1993 Camaro Z28
Classic car Stories: My Three Camaros - One Good, One Bad and One Great!
Classic Car Stories: Mom's 1961 Plymouth Valient

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Greene coached like he played, at full speed

nfl.com
Sad to hear of Kevin's resignation. He was a great Packer coach and will be missed.  Story thanks to: 

Jan 17, 2014  GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If we’re being honest here, I should admit to feeling a little afraid of Kevin Greene the first time I met him.

Those wild eyes in front of that flowing blonde hair, his hulking 6-foot-3 frame, the memories of watching what he did to opposing quarterbacks -- sacking them 160 times in his 15-year NFL playing career -- and his brief stint as a professional wrestler are more than enough to make you feel a little intimidated.

It takes a while for that to go away. It was just starting to do so in November of 2010, when Greene was halfway through his second season as the Green Bay Packers' outside linebackers coach. That’s when he cornered me in the hallway outside the locker room and wanted to discuss something that appeared in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, my employer at the time, under my byline.

It was a story that was critical of rookie outside linebacker Frank Zombo, who in the previous game against the Minnesota Vikings had missed an open-field tackle that allowed running back Toby Gerhart to convert a third-and-12 dump-off pass into a first down.

Greene asked -- make that told -- me to follow him down the hallway, something that was highly unusual because it was an area normally restricted to reporters, and into the outside linebackers meeting room. He closed the door and opened with this:

“What you wrote about Frank Zombo was unnnnnnnnnjustified," holding the "n" for several seconds.

Over the next 15 minutes, Greene showed about 20 clips from the Vikings’ game. He conceded that the missed tackle of Gerhart was a bad play, but he wanted to make it perfectly clear that he felt Zombo was playing well.

From that film session, a story was born and appeared in the Nov. 26, 2010, edition of the Press-Gazette. Here’s an excerpt:
So Greene cued up play after play.

He showed Zombo in perfect position when dropping in coverage to defend the hook-curl area in the middle of the field.

He showed Zombo knocking one of the Vikings' guards back into the fullback, which freed up inside linebacker A.J. Hawk to tackle Adrian Peterson for a short gain.

He showed Zombo, all 6-foot-3 and 254 pounds of him, bull-rushing Vikings' left tackle Bryant McKinnie (6-8, 335) straight back into [Brett] Favre, who had to throw off balance.

"Who's kicking who's (butt)?" Greene asks rhetorically. "Seriously, straight up. He's changing the line of scrimmage on a guy who weighs 350 pounds and (went to the) Pro Bowl. This is David and Goliath. It's Zombo kicking a big man's (butt), if you ever want to see what a (butt) kicking looks like. McKinnie's job is to hit him in the lips and blow him off the ball, move him off the line of scrimmage. Not the other way around. Whose feet are going back? McKinnie's."

With each highlight Greene showed, the former star outside linebacker, who is in his second season on the Packers' coaching staff, became more excited.

At various points, he'd just yell, "Zombo!"

At one point on that afternoon, a Packers staff member opened the door to see if everything was OK.

To which Greene responded, “OK, we’re almost done.”

But there was one more play he wanted to show on the big screen.

“Watch this run,” Greene said. “They try to run a delayed screen on Zombo. Guess what? Tackle for no gain.”

Zombo would go on to start for the Packers in Super Bowl XLV before injuries derailed his career, which was revived this season with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Greene cared about his players, who he often referred to as “my kids.” He had a passion for the game as a player and he carried it over to his coaching. He coached like he played, full speed ahead.

Perhaps that’s why after only five seasons on the Packers staff, he has decided to step away from coaching, the team announced on Friday, to spend more time with his family.

That hallway, that meeting room may never been the same.

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter
 http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcnorth/post/_/id/64704/greene-coached-like-he-played-at-full-speed

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Trucker who refused to drive awarded back wages

flickr.com

 Story thanks to    and Overdriveonline.com | January 06, 2014

 

 Fleet ordered to stop retaliation

January 06, 2014 An Auburn, Wash.-based fleet has been ordered by the Labor Department to pay one of its former truck drivers back wages and to stop an attendance policy that the  department says retaliates against drivers who refuse to drive due to safety reasons. 

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration after an investigation into Oak Harbor Freight Lines ordered the fleet to pay an unnamed driver lost wages after the driver filed a whistleblower complaint under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.
OSHA said the driver had notified his carrier that he was sick and was taking a prescribed cough medicine — and therefore could not drive. The driver was then suspended without pay in September 2010.

The Surface Transportation Assistance Act protects drivers from retaliation by employers for refusing to drive when doing so would violate safety laws.
OSHA, in addition to ordering the carrier to compensate the driver, ordered Oak Harbor to stop issuing “occurrences” to drivers, which OSHA says punishes drivers for not driving, regardless of safety concerns, as the attendance policy can lead to disciplinary action.
Oak Harbor will also be required to post a notice for drivers to read to learn more about their rights under STAA.

“Punishing workers for exercising their right to refuse driving assignments is against the law,” said David Mahlum, OSHA’s acting regional administrator in Seattle. “A company cannot place its attendance policies ahead of the safety of its drivers and that of the public.”
 http://www.overdriveonline.com/trucker-who-refused-to-drive-awarded-back-wages-fleet-ordered-to-stop-retaliation/

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Building Las Vegas

overdriveonline.com
Story thanks to Jason Cannon and hardworkingtrucks.com Link provided below:
If you've ever blown a car payment on a Las Vegas roulette wheel or hit it big on a dollar slot machine, you can – at least partially – thank southern California-based Apex Logistics.
The largest bulk carrier in the region, Apex played a key role in building Las Vegas as we know it.
“We have been the primary carrier for the bulk cement used to build virtually all of the casinos constructed in Vegas since 2000,” says Denny Wyatt, owner and Director of Apex Sales and Marketing.
The Apex client list are some of the staples of the Las Vegas Strip: The Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, Mandalay Bay and New York New York.
 “The largest continuous pour we supported in Vegas was 20,000 cubic yards that required 200 truckloads of cement delivered continuously during a 14-hour period,” says Steve Gale, President of Apex Logistics. “We kept the highway between Lucerne Valley, Calif. and Las Vegas pretty busy during that job.”
Apex’s involvement in the building of a desert gambling oasis isn’t limited to hotels. If you have visited Las Vegas recently, you’ve probably stood on cement provided by Apex. 
And outside the glitz and glam of Sin City, Apex has become a key player in a different kind of glitz and glam: the mineral kind.
“Nevada is the No. 1 state in gold production in the U.S.” says Wyatt, who served as the 2010 President of the California Trucking Association and was Chairman of the Board for the Association in 2011.  “We deliver all of the quick lime used by Round Mountain Gold to produce approximately 900,000 ounces of gold per year.”
Wyatt says Apex operates 260 trucks and 335 trailers, employing 205 drivers and has contracts with 85 owner-operators.
“Last year, our driver turnover rate was 43.5 percent,” Gale says against an industry average of nearly 100 percent. “If you’re not a driver in this company, you work for the drivers and you support them. We live and breathe the RSVP program. We Respect, Support, Value and Protect our drivers.”


Friday, January 17, 2014

Milwaukee crime boss' son John J. Balistrieri may get law license back

Frank P. Balistrieri (center) walks with his sons, John (left) 
and Joseph, in the Milwaukee County Courthouse in 1975.
Article thanks to Cary Spivak of the Miwaukee Journal Sentinel. Links provided below:

Decades after attempted extortion, he has backing of many lawyers

Jan. 8, 2014 John J. Balistrieri, a felon and the son of Milwaukee's onetime organized crime boss, is in the final stages of a bid to win back his law license — an effort that is moving along slowly, but far more smoothly than his previous attempt.
The application won a strong favorable recommendation from Richard Ninneman, the attorney appointed by the state Supreme Court to review the case. Balistrieri also has the backing of 14 lawyers who either wrote letters or testified at his 2012 reinstatement hearing. However, the Office of Lawyer Regulation — the successor to the professional responsibility board — opposes his reinstatement.
Balistrieri, 65, his older brother Joseph and their father, Frank, were convicted of attempted extortion in 1984 after an FBI sting and federal trial that focused on the role of organized crime in the Milwaukee vending machine business. Frank Balistrieri died in 1993 and Joseph died in 2010.
The Balistrieri brothers were sentenced to eight years in prison, but the term was cut to five after they blamed their father for their troubles and claimed to cut ties to him. Each brother's law license was suspended in 1984 and each was later disbarred.
John Balistrieri's current bid to get his law license back stands in contrast with his last application, which failed in the late 1990s. At the time, he charged that state legal industry regulators had a "hostile bias" against him and other Italian-Americans. Balistrieri's charges came after the Board of Attorneys Professional Responsibility recommended against giving Balistrieri his law license back.
"He really got a raw, unfair deal," said William Cannon, a high-profile personal injury lawyer who attended Marquette University High School with Balistrieri.
"Compare his punishment to all the other lawyers who have lost their licenses for worse behavior but got them back. He got a raw deal ... there are no two ways about it."
Daniel Blinka, a Marquette University law professor, testified for Balistrieri "to make the point that our standard has always been good moral character today."
Blinka, a former assistant district attorney who worked in the organized crime unit, said that in the years since Balistrieri's release he appears to have shown the good moral character required to hold a law license.
"A felony conviction is a salient factor to consider, but so is the passage of time," said Blinka, who is not a friend of Balistrieri's but agreed to research and testify in the case.

Lawyers' support

Other lawyers supporting Balistrieri include former federal prosecutor Mark Cameli, now with Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren; defense lawyers Stephen Glynn, who represented Balistrieri in the 1980s and James Shellow, who represented Frank Balistrieri; William Steinmetz, formerly with Reinhart, now with Shellow's law firm; and Kenosha attorney Joseph Madrigrano Jr.
In a letter to Ninneman, Cannon listed nearly two dozen lawyers who got their licenses back after being suspended or disbarred for serious unethical behavior — including pocketing client funds — or being convicted of felonies.
In his recommendation to the Supreme Court supporting Balistrieri, Ninneman cited cases involving former state Sen. Gary George and David Jennings III, both of whom got their law licenses back after serving prison sentences.
George was convicted in 2004 for accepting kickbacks of about $270,000. He was without a law license for about six years. Jennings went more than 19 years without a law license after being convicted of embezzling more than $600,000 from his mother's trust and from companies he represented.
"In Wisconsin, the conviction of a felony is no absolute bar to the reinstatement of an attorney's license to practice law," wrote Ninneman, a retired Quarles & Brady partner.
The Journal Sentinel reported in 2011 that more than 135 people with criminal records had Wisconsin law licenses. Some kept their law licenses while they were serving time or were on probation, the paper reported.
In its objection to Balistrieri's reinstatement, the Office of Lawyer Regulation raised questions about Balistrieri's income tax filings; argued that he left out important information on his reinstatement application, blamed others for his mistakes and has not accepted responsibility for his actions.
"Once again, more than 25 years after his conviction for the crime of extortion and attempted extortion of an undercover FBI agent, Balistrieri continues in failing to accept responsibility for his conduct," Denis Vogel, attorney for the regulators, wrote in a brief.
Vogel said Balistrieri "attempts to cast himself in the role of a pawn of his father and victim of his family's culture."
Vogel argued that Balistrieri continues to shift blame to others "especially where Balistrieri has been confronted with conflicts between his statements and actual facts."
Ninnemann, however, said Balistrieri has earned the right to practice law again.
"After 28 years, whether for his family or for his own self-esteem, the time has come to reinstate Balistrieri's law license," Ninneman wrote. "Accordingly, I strongly recommend that Balistrieri's petition be granted."
The recommendation has been pending with the Supreme Court for a year. Terry Johnson, Balistrieri's attorney, said he hoped the court would decide the matter soon. Balistrieri declined to comment.
During his testimony at his reinstatement hearing, Balistrieri said, he wanted his law license back "primarily to rehabilitate my reputation, rehabilitate my name, rehabilitate my character."


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Regulation Rage

caranddriver.com
Another story of our government run a muck. Story thanks to ccjdigital.com and Jack Roberts, who is Executive Editor of CCJ.
You can follow him on twitter at @JackRobertsCCJ, link provided below:

11/29/13  General Motors last week announced it is recalling 18,941 Chevrolet Camaros for violating Federal Motor Safety Standard No. 208 – a statute that regulates Occupant Crash Protection.
The problem? The air bag warning label on the cars’ sun visor may peel. Now, before I sat down to dash this little blog out, I took a second and ran an internet search to see how much a new Camaro costs. According to the trusty Google, you can get a base model, V-6 Camaro for about $25,000.
Now, I don’t believe that for one damn minute. Camaros are pretty popular. So I’d figure on paying closer to $30 grand if you’re in the market for one. But, regardless, for that kind of money, nothing on the car – and I mean absolute nothing – should be peeling, or fading or coming loose for a very, very long time. But hey – stuff happens, right?
So, why the recall?
Well, according to the government’s reasoning, this is actually a big deal. The argument goes that if the air bag warning label detaches from the visor, the driver and front seat passenger may not be warned of the risks of air bag deployment.
This apparently is the kind of crisis the National Highway and Transportation Safety Agency lives for. So, the agency’s Executive Field Action Decision Committee, following a review by the Field Performance Evaluation Review Committee determined that Chevy is in noncompliance of the requirement that the visor label be “permanently affixed.”
GM also issued a stop delivery order to dealers, and instructed them to inspect the label on each sun visor (“using a finger nail, plastic card, or similar” to determine proper adhesion). In the event a label is prone to peel, the entire sun visor must be scrapped and replaced.
So, General Motors is now required under NHTSA rules to initiate a recall of 18,941 vehicles because these labels might peel. And it doesn’t matter that the labels are sitting there not peeling. Because if somebody with a fingernail or a plastic card comes along and makes them peel, then the car’s got to go in and have its sun visor replaced.
Now, let me go on record and say that I think regulations aren’t necessarily a bad thing. There are a lot of common place regulations out there that help average Americans keep from being scammed and taken advantage of. The problem is that governments – and politicians – love regulations. There’s no word if GM will incur a fine for using crappy glue on its air bag warning labels. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they get shaken down for some cash as a result of all this.
There’s no telling what this little fiasco is going to cost GM. But, being good capitalists, you can bet the company will figure out a way to pass those costs on to the consumer. And next year, the base price of a Camaro will be just a little more out of reach for the average American. It makes you wonder who the real winner in this whole sorry story is? Because I don’t think it’s the average American.
- See more at: http://www.ccjdigital.com/regulation-rage/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=12-02-2013&utm_campaign=CCJ&ust_id=137f89555c&#sthash.RX2VRXYV.dpuf

Sunday, January 12, 2014

We get the "OnGuard" Electronic Collision Avoidance System

The Realization:
Our company location in Salt Lake City is getting a new fleet of 2014 Freightliner tractors that will be coming in the next few weeks. Our corporate officers have recently mandated that all new tractors will have the Meritor Wabco "OnGuard" Electronic Collision Avoidance System installed. None of our drivers or local mangers were aware of the new policy.

We got the first new tractor in this past week, which was a day cab that I went over to the shop to take a look at. I knew nothing about this system and was not aware of the new mandate until I saw the on-board display unit mounted on the dash in the tractor. Finding a brochure inside, I started reading up on it.

There is a forward facing radar device mounted on the front of the unit that monitors any moving vehicle directly ahead of the tractor. One "feature" is adaptive cruise control, which when you have the cruise on, will actually control the following distance by accelerating, decelerating, activating the engine brake and even applying the vehicle brakes as needed. The unit will not react to a fixed object, except for audio and display warnings.

Whether the cruise control is activated or not, there is a series of beeps and color changes on the screen to alert you if you are following too close. From what I have read, in the event of a high closing speed with imminent collision and no reaction from the driver, the unit will activate the engine brake and apply 50% braking force to the vehicle to try to avoid impact or reduce the severity of the crash.

The Reaction:
We had a safety meeting this past Saturday with our region safety manager flying in for it. He brought some video presentation with him to help demonstrate and explain the system. The original reaction of most of our drivers was extremely negative.

  • From hearing the comments, the biggest concern for them is the unit's ability to engage the engine Jake brake on slippery or icy roads. We drive back and forth across Wyoming year round and believe me, if you're in winter Wyoming weather and road conditions, you want full control of your vehicle at all times.
  • The next serious concern was the worry of the unit slamming on the brakes while the cruise control is on as a vehicle cuts into their following distance in front of them. Does that not leave you set up for someone to run into the back of you?
  • Finally, there is the issue of constant beeping and flashing warnings as the driver tries to maintain a 3.6 second following distance in heavy freeway traffic. If you think about it, in heavy traffic, someone is constantly cutting in front of you no matter how much distance you try and leave. If this thing is going to be constantly blaring at you, sooner or later, the driver will have to tune out and ignore it. Or slowly go insane!
We have a lot of older, mature drivers at our location that have been driving professionally all of their lives. I know being old school, technology and change can be hard. I've also had the opportunity to own a 1999 Corvette that had an active handling feature as an option. I was quite impressed with it.

The bottom line is that this change is here, directed by our corporate headquarters and no matter how the drivers feel about it, they will have to accept it or go elsewhere. Hopefully, the unit is not as intrusive as feared.

As we get some real world experience with this system, I'll keep a journal and update you on it. Meanwhile, if any of you have this equipment, your comments are always welcome. Below is a YouTube video of a company demonstration.



Saturday, January 11, 2014

Obituary of a Mafia Godfather's Son

A short, sad story of a life that could have been so much different. Frank Balistrieri was an evil man who dragged his two sons into the "business" His boys had talent, education and could have been real assets to their community. Instead they lived under a law enforcement microscope all of their lives and went to prison and lost their law licenses for it. Joe died in Oct of 2010 at the age of 70.


Balistrieri tugged at family crime ties

Thanks to Amy Rabideau Silvers of the Journal Sentinel. Link provided below:

Above Picture: Frank P. Balistrieri (center) was accompanied by his sons, John J. (left) and Joseph P., at the Federal Building in 1981. Balistrieri and his sons were convicted of extortion in 1984. 

Journal Sentinel Files

Joe rejected father, reputed boss

Oct. 26, 2010  The sins of the father became the sins of the son, in sharp contrast to what friends and colleagues say Joseph P. Balistrieri was like in his personal life.
Balistrieri died Monday. He was 70.
His father, of course, was the late Frank P. Balistrieri, long considered the Mafia boss of Milwaukee by federal authorities. Frank Balistrieri and his sons, attorneys Joseph and John, were convicted of extortion in 1984. Frank was sentenced to 13 years. His sons were sentenced to eight years and released after serving 39 months in prison.
The sons later publicly repudiated their father as an "evil force" who dragged them into his world and public ruin.
"He had made our births a scandal," Joe once said.
The convictions came after long years of investigation and sometimes charges by authorities. The 1984 conviction was the one that stuck. In addition to prison, neither practiced law again.
The legal evidence included FBI wiretap conversations between the two brothers.
"Brother John," Joe said at one point on the tape, "any hope of being legitimate is automatically erased  . . . the time to make our move was in 1975 when we were absolutely clean."
"We had to do it his way," Joe added bitterly, "(and) we were absolutely corrupted."
On the surface, the details of his life seemed normal and even exemplary. He went to Catholic grade school and Marquette University High School. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame, lettering twice in track, before earning a law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1965.
"I remember the first time I saw Joey after he became an attorney," said William Janz, who wrote about the Balistrieri family for the old Milwaukee Sentinel and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He walked out of the judge's chambers and a state agent was sitting in the back of the courtroom and took pictures of him."
Journal Sentinel files
It was a harbinger of things to come.
He was a suave man, with a subdued sense of elegance and style. He loved the arts, especially opera, traveling overseas for concerts and even teaching classes on the subject.
By all accounts, Joe Balistrieri was also a gifted attorney.
"He was one of the brightest guys I've ever known," said attorney Gerald P. Boyle. "He was a first-rate lawyer . . .  and he was very much a gentleman. Unfortunately, he was born into a culture that, I think, caused him to do things he might not otherwise have done."
Others agreed.
"I think it was a consequence of culture, rather than greed or a need for power," said James Shellow, a criminal defense lawyer who represented Frank Balistrieri.
"If you listen to the wiretaps, Joe was the one who recognized that," Shellow said. "He was trapped  . . .  He didn't feel he could escape his destiny."
Janz recalled asking him how he was doing - "The dumbest question I ever asked him" - while Balistrieri stood alone outside during his trial.
Balistrieri answered with quiet gallows humor.
"As the man said after he jumped from the Empire State Building and passed the 76th floor, 'So far, so good,' " Balistrieri replied.
Contacted Tuesday, his brother declined to discuss any cause of his older brother's death - or any aspect of the criminal cases.
"He was a gentleman of exceptionally good character," John said. "He had a brilliant mind. He was respected and admired by his friends, not only in the legal community but the Italian community."
After prison, both returned to a life largely out of the news. Their father died in 1993. Joe Balistrieri remained an owner and operator of the Shorecrest Hotel, where he also lived.
Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Suminski Family Funeral Home, 1901 N. Farwell Ave. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Old St. Mary's Church, 876 N. Broadway.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

CSA Violations - Another trucking manager's horror story

We dispatch about 100 drivers statewide and currently show three accidents on the CSA.  One was serious in which the truck driver took evasive action to minimize the risk to a motorist who moved into his lane while digging under the seat of the car he was driving.  Thanks to the truck driver the motorist survived the crash.    In the second accident our driver stopped behind a blocking accident and was dialing 911 for aid while setting out flares, when a third vehicle hit his trailer from behind.  The third accident was another lane encroachment by a motorist in which the truck driver had to maintain his wits to keep from involving anyone else.  There was damage but no injuries.  The other motorist was cited.  There are no accidents that we were at fault for though it looks as if we have a pretty high crash incidence. 

I also might point out that there is an unseen and uncounted toll on the psyche of the commercial driver who is involved in a crash.  Then to add insult to injury the crash appears on his record in our state without fault designation as well as on the company CSA affecting our ability to get him future work.      Due to the CSA changes of Dec 2012 combining securement into the maintenance basic our maintenance basic increased to over 60.  Securement includes anything overweight including axle weight and bridge/weight ratio,  rules which vary from state to state.    We have worked diligently to adjust our equipment and loading habits to make everybody happy and reduce the number of those kinds of violations but its a difficult area to maneuver. You could say that CSA changes have affected the intensity with which we have attacked this area but the things we have changed have had very little to do with securement or maintenance.      

Then this past spring one of our terminals began sending me DVIRs daily from one particular Point of Entry scalehouse and the local area surrounding it in the next state.  We sent three to five units a day through that POE all summer and each truck was inspected usually recieving violations; sometimes being inspected twice or more per day. The violations were occasionally valid but mostly questionable citing things such as potential hose wear, tire pressure, or HOS violations which should not have been applied to local/regional drivers.  We were written for the height of a reflector from the ground that has been in the same place on all of the equipment for years and for a loose extinguisher because the driver hooked a glove on the fastener & knocked it loose while getting his tools during an inspection.  As is policy the night maintenance crew addressed each violation nightly right down to replacing the fastener the errant extinguisher hanger and moving all of our reflectors up an inch, but  violations were found at that POE on the same equipment and drivers each day.  Two drivers were told that we were being singeled out for challenging an earlier OOS violation at that POE and getting it removed.  The rumor was believable since it was the only place in four states we were  being inspected and issued violations daily (though it was the most inspection prolific summer we have had).  

Thankfully, the harassment at the one POE dropped off in October and inspections dropped to almost nill everywhere during September even though we were busier than ever.     Heres the thing:  A company score is way too easily skewed under the current system.  The CSA is punitive, not helpful to those companies and drivers who strive to BE safe, not just LOOK safe according to the CSA.  It grants power to punish without opportunity for fair and objective appeal.  It sets law enforcement and trucking in oposite corners of the safety ring so they are sure to come out swinging instead of encouraging an environment of cooperation.        I used to be able to say to a driver, " Well, we all have bad days, and cops can't know everything,  just be respectful and get back on the road".  Now I have to say, "Well he's wrong.  Take a picture & send it to me.  I'll spend the next two afternoons researching, compiling and making my case so I can prove to him and his superiors that he doesnt know what he's talking about"    On top of this the FMC have added so many layers of rules and exceptions to rules over time that combined with other state and federal law, how could your average officer freindly be expected to remember and enforce it all?  No wonder he's feeling cranky.  Its overwelming just to know regulations which apply to our own industry.   I'd guess that enforcing the regulations has to be as frustrating and unrewarding as trying to comply with them. 
- See more at: http://www.ccjdigital.com/ata-questions-validity-of-csa-as-a-measure-of-safety-risk-for-individual-carriers/#sthash.YeqjLeGw.dpuf

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Deer – RV crash shocks investigating officer

rvnewsservice.com
November 7, 2013 Article thanks to Russ De Maris and rvnewsservice.com Link provided:
GARFIELD COUNTY, UTAH – Officers responding to an RVer’s call that she had “hit something” in the roadway got a major surprise. The call came late in the afternoon on Sunday, November 4, from a woman pulling a travel trailer on Utah’s Route 89.
A responding wildlife officer, Micah Evans, says he observed a rather large hole in the front of the woman’s travel trailer, but no blood splatter evident. He anticipated finding a dead deer inside the rig, and got quite a shock when he opened the door to the trailer and encountered a three-point buck deer – quite alive and well, thank you. Evans had time to take a photo of the deer browsing around inside the rig. However the camera flash was more than the buck was prepared for, and Evans had to respond quickly to clear the path for the deer to leap from the trailer doorway, across a fence, and away into the wild.
Evidently not all police officials are dour and humorless. The county sheriff, James Perkins, Jr., happened on scene, and tongue-in-cheek told the driver he might have to cite her for hunting without a license.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Mafia Front Man - The rise and fall

vanityfair.com Photo:Sam Jones
Excellent extensive interview thanks to Bryan Burrough and vanityfair.com Link provided below:
Merv Adelson, the once powerful producer, whose TV hits (The Waltons, Dallas, Knots Landing) made him hugely wealthy, and who was married to Barbara Walters, finally talks about the greatest mystery of his career—his Mafia ties—as well as the ambition that was his undoing.

Down on the beach alongside the Santa Monica Pier, amid the crowds of toned young skaters and wandering tourists, you can sometimes see an elderly man walking his dog. He is 83 years old, lean and tanned, with a tangle of white hair and rheumy blue eyes. While he scuffles along in worn jeans and sneakers, no one has a clue who he is, much less who he was. He lives in a building just steps off the sand, in a tiny apartment, barely 500 square feet of space in all, with a kitchenette and a battered white futon.

What none of his neighbors realize is that the old man once had walk-in closets the size of this apartment. In fact, he was one of the richest and most powerful figures in Hollywood, with a beach house in Malibu, a ranch in Aspen, and a private jet. He made movies and hit television shows and worked from Louis B. Mayer’s old office on the MGM lot. He was married to Barbara Walters, played golf with President Bill Clinton, stayed overnight at the White House, and counted Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu among his closest friends. Before he lost it all, he was worth $300 million. His name is Merv Adelson, and as you might imagine, he has quite a story to tell.
“Well, this is it,” Adelson says, extending an arm as he ushers me into his apartment. “Not much, I know, but it’s all I really need.” He sprawls on the futon, kicks off his shoes, and slowly lifts his feet onto a coffee table, toes wiggling in his white athletic socks. We end up talking for hours, and then days. Adelson’s hearing is failing, but he is lucid and strenuously modest, sprinkling our conversations with comments like “Am I boring you?” and “You don’t want to hear this.” He is candid and upbeat throughout, taking full responsibility for his downfall and refusing any bid for sympathy.
“If you asked me back in the day, ‘What do you miss the most?,’ my answer would have been ‘I miss my jet,’ ” Adelson muses. “You know, there was a time I could pick up the phone here, call my pilot, and I could be in Paris the next morning. But not anymore. I won’t be namby-pamby and say I don’t miss all that money. I do. But I’ve learned to do so much on my own. I made my first million at age 24. Since then I’ve always had people do things for me. Now I pay my own bills. The other day I changed to online banking. It’s so great! And easy!”
He cocks his head toward the kitchenette. “Look over there—the dishwasher is on. Who put those dishes in? I did. It’s all me. That’s satisfying to me now.” He pauses a moment, then glances out the window toward the ocean beyond, then manages a wry smile. “But I’d still love a jet. It’s still the biggest thing I miss. It is.”
If this story was just about the fall of a once mighty mogul, it would still be one heckuva tale. Merv Adelson was the popular executive behind some of the most iconic television shows in history: The Waltons, Dallas, Knots Landing, Falcon Crest, Eight Is Enough.The company he founded, Lorimar, was for years the top independent studio in Hollywood; his boardroom decisions were analyzed on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. Lorimar was renowned for cranking out top executives as well; Adelson’s protégés include Peter Chernin, who for years served as Rupert Murdoch’s number-two man; Leslie Moonves, the C.E.O. of CBS; and Brad Grey, the C.E.O. of Paramount Pictures. Adelson was never quite as successful making movies as he was TV shows, however, and when, in 1989, his pal the late Steve Ross, of Warner Communications, offered to buy him out, Adelson gladly accepted. Overnight, Adelson became a Time Warner vice-chairman, a member of its board, and an independent investor, which is where the story should end happily, but doesn’t.
“You could only be a rat not to say something decent about Merv, a totally decent guy who has had a tough last period,” says IAC chairman Barry Diller. “In fact, you never hear anything bad about him, except, obviously, for some really bad judgment. He was a good man.” Les Moonves adds, “Merv will be remembered as a man who started a great television company, one of the greatest in history, one of the most respected Hollywood will ever see. He was a terrific boss, extremely supportive to his people. He treated me like family.” Even Adelson’s ex-wives—well, one at least—regard him warmly. “He was a kind, funny, thoughtful man,” says Barbara Walters, who divorced him in 1992. “Would things have worked out differently for Merv if we had stayed together? I don’t know. Probably not I have no regrets.”
But the sad ending to Adelson’s career is only half the story. What’s truly jaw-dropping is what he now finally acknowledges about his beginnings. It’s the kind of admission one simply doesn’t hear, not from a Hollywood figure of Adelson’s stature, not in the 21st century. But Adelson got his start in the 1950s, in Las Vegas real estate, and for years after he was plagued by rumors, and eventually nasty articles in the press, suggesting that he was too close with some very unsavory characters. For years he denied or downplayed this fact, most notably in a decade-long libel suit against Penthouse magazine.
Sitting in Adelson’s tiny apartment, I was unsure how to broach the subject. To my surprise, he did it first. He talked for hours, in fact, trying hard to make me understand how it was in Vegas back then, how it happened, what he did. Now he admits that for a decade, until he started Lorimar, in 1969, he was essentially a front man for the Mafia. The infamous mobster who served as his key business partner, who went down in history as “the Godfather of Las Vegas,” was not just an acquaintance, or a silent partner, or someone with a murky past Adelson bumped into.
“He was maybe my closest friend,” Adelson says today. “If you used the word ‘mentor,’ well, I couldn’t object to that word.”
They don’t make Hollywood moguls like Merv Adelson anymore, men who began in grocery stores, men who made their millions in real estate and then went on to create television series and movies and Internet start-ups. Adelson is in some ways typical of the second generation of Jews who rose to power in Hollywood after the passing of its founders, the Jack Warners and Louis B. Mayers and Adolph Zukors.
His father, Nathan, was a Russian immigrant, but Merv knows nothing of his father’s origins, where he was born or when he emigrated. “It sounds so stupid to me now, but we never had time to talk about any of this,” Adelson says. “He came on a boat—that’s all he said.”
Nathan was a workaholic, but Merv’s mother devoted much of her attention to her son. One of Adelson’s daughters, Ellie Ross, a Santa Monica psychotherapist, traces some of her father’s behavior to his upbringing. “He had a mother who basically worshipped him and never set limits for him,” she says. “Obviously that isn’t healthy. I think what he got from that family environment was a sense of entitlement, that he could do no wrong, that he could have his cake and eat it, too. It’s an impulsive way of being: he always went for the gratification of the moment rather than think about consequences. He still doesn’t understand or think in terms of consequences. He gets an idea how things should turn out and they just will. Which worked for a long time. In an odd way, the very things that made him very successful led to his downfall.”
From the age of eight Merv worked at the family store in Inglewood every day after school, filling bags of sugar at first, then graduating to delivery boy. The Adelsons did well enough to open a second store, at the corner of Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards, when Merv was 12 or so; later they added another in Westwood. By 13, Merv was driving deliveries into Beverly Hills, where he met stars such as Cornel Wilde. He and a friend, a handsome soon-to-be actor named Robert “R.J.” Wagner, found the big houses brimming with all manner of willing women. “R.J. fucked all the starlets,” Adelson says. “I fucked all the maids.” Actually, he confides, the woman who taught him the most about sex was a Hollywood heartthrob’s wife, with whom he had an affair that lasted through his teenage years. “She was very up-front that she liked younger guys,” he says with a shrug. “She showed me a lot of things.”
In high school Adelson emerged as a gifted athlete. But he had a temper and was disqualified from a baseball squad after whacking an opposing coach in the shins with a bat. “I was a tough little monkey,” he says. “They said when I got mad I could stare at somebody and they would back off. I don’t know if that is true. But people knew what I could do.”
He was a good enough catcher to be scouted by Stanford, whose coaches suggested he take a year of seasoning at a local college. He did it, but Stanford rejected him anyway; Adelson stalked home to Los Angeles believing, with no real evidence, that he had been a victim of anti-Semitism. His father put him to work managing one of his stores, one in a tough neighborhood. It was being robbed every two or three months; by 21, Adelson was growing used to having pistols shoved in his face. “Calm down, calm down,” he would mutter, then hand over everything in the safe. It wasn’t surprising that, before long, young Merv Adelson was looking for another line of work.

Go East, Young Man

Las Vegas was a dusty desert village when a California hotelier built its first casino-resort, the El Rancho Vegas, in 1941. A second opened the following year and another, the gangster “Bugsy” Siegel’s Flamingo Hotel, in 1946. By 1950 a half-dozen new casinos were under construction on what came to be known as the Strip. Among the city’s most enthusiastic early visitors was Adelson’s father; as it happened, one of Nathan’s cousins, a local impresario named Beldon Katleman, had taken control of El Rancho in 1947. “Dad loved Las Vegas,” Adelson recalls. “He would go every chance he had. I went occasionally.”
It was during one of these visits that it hit him. “I suddenly thought, Everything is open 24 hours, but there’s no place to buy groceries,” Adelson recalls. “I got the idea: a 24-hour supermarket.” He scraped together money to buy a lot at the corner of East Oakey Boulevard and Fifth Place, just off the Strip. His father invested $10,000, their suppliers chipped in a bit more, and, after 18 months of begging, Adelson persuaded a Las Vegas bank to lend him the remaining $40,000 he needed to start construction. When it opened, in 1953, Adelson’s 15,000-square-foot “Market Town” was an instant smash, drawing crowds around the clock; he later opened two more. Within a year, Adelson calculated, he was a millionaire.
He was 24. He worked long hours, drawing up his newspaper advertisements in the hours before dawn. When he wasn’t working, he began sampling the city’s illicit pleasures. Early on, he bunked in an El Rancho dormitory that housed many of the casino’s entertainers. It was there that Adelson discovered the joy of chasing the beautiful young women already flocking to Las Vegas.
“God, the chorus girls!” he exclaims. “I loved it. Just loved it. I remember the first day I walked in, this one black singer came out wearing nearly nothing. I was about in shock.”
Adelson furrows his brow. “What was her name? Shit. She was famous.”
He picks up his cell phone, calls a friend, and asks for the singer’s name.
“The one you had the affair with?” she asks.
“Yeah.” Neither can remember the name. “Oh well,” he says, slapping his forehead. “I’ll remember it. The names … I just can’t remember them anymore.”
By then Adelson had married his high-school sweetheart, Lori Kaufman, and he moved her into a house on the Desert Inn’s golf course; by the late 1950s they were raising three young children. But between long hours at the supermarket and his growing taste for chorus girls, he was rarely at home. “I was out every night,” he says with a sigh. “I was a lousy, lousy husband. I loved my wife, but this was beyond temptation. Looking back, one of the things I regret most is the way I treated her in those days. She did nothing to deserve it. The worst part of it was coming home and lying. I’m a bad liar. But I lied. I couldn’t tell her the truth and keep her and the kids. I tried to be as inconspicuous as I could, but as I became more well known, it became harder and harder.”
Again he furrows his brow.
“Eve? Eva? Yvette? God. What was her name?”
When he wasn’t chasing chorus girls, Adelson was chasing new deals. Las Vegas was exploding all around him with opportunities. He and another newcomer, a real-estate man named Irwin Molasky, were playing golf one day at the Desert Inn when they noticed a number of empty building lots along the fairways. For some reason they weren’t selling. The two up-and-comers pooled their money, bought the lots, and built houses on them; they sold in no time.
“After that, we started building houses all over Vegas,” Adelson recalls. “They sold like hotcakes.” It was the beginning of a partnership that would last five decades. In the next few years Adelson and Molasky formed Paradise Homes, which built hundreds of houses around Las Vegas, selling an average of one a day between 1957 and 1959. Later they branched out, developing the city’s first indoor shopping mall, in addition to the Las Vegas Country Club and the city’s best-known office building, the Bank of America Plaza.
It was an intoxicating time. “Nobody had ever seen a place like Vegas in those days,” Adelson says. “I mean, no matter how many TV shows you see, you will never understand the allure of Las Vegas at the time. It was the most exciting time and place you could ever imagine. You could be at a charity dinner, and the roster would include one or two of the stars from the Strip—Sinatra, Dean Martin, probably the owner of at least one or two of the hotels, famous lawyers, the mayor, millionaire businessmen, and one or two of the really famous mobsters. Nobody talked about anything except Vegas. It was Vegas, Vegas, Vegas. If Vegas was successful, we would all be successful. If the mobsters came in and made money and brought in money, you didn’t even talk about it. It was a very small issue to us. They were legitimate businessmen with gambling licenses issued by the state. They could write books about them; they could say they planted guys out in the desert. None of it mattered. All that mattered was Vegas. All of us, myself included, you came to Vegas to make money, just make money. And that’s what we did. All the rest of it, whatever anyone else said, it just rolled off our backs.”
It was against this background that, one evening in 1955 or 1956, Adelson took his wife to a ballroom-dancing class at an Arthur Murray studio. Two other men were there with their wives, and Adelson started talking with them. One was Allard Roen, né Rosen, the convicted stock swindler who ran the Desert Inn. The other was Roen’s boss, the man who would come to be known as the most influential mobster in Nevada history. In time he would be called “the Godfather of Las Vegas.”
His name was Moe Dalitz.
American gangsters tend to be described as one of two stereotypes: the crass, scheming, ultra-violent mobster personified by the likes of Bugsy Siegel and Sam Giancana, and the quiet, scheming, urbane, behind-the-scenes racketeer personified by the legendary Meyer Lansky. Born a laundryman’s son in 1899, Morris Barney Dalitz, a small, unfailingly polite man in his later years, fell squarely into the Lansky mold; he was a kind of midwestern Meyer Lansky. In Dalitz’s long life he was never convicted of a single crime. But his biographers, not to mention the F.B.I., consider him one of the most successful American mafiosi of the 20th century. Not long before his death, in 1989, Lansky himself told an interviewer that he envied Dalitz as much as any of his criminal peers, for the simple reason, he said, that “Moe got to go legit.”
As a young man in Detroit during the 1920s, Dalitz made his name running illegal alcohol into Ohio from Canada. After Prohibition he became a force behind gambling and other illegal activities, first in Ohio and Kentucky, then in cities from Phoenix all the way to Havana. The turning point in his career came in 1948, when he stepped in to take control of a new casino, the Desert Inn, whose owner had run short of construction funds. Finding that the dry air agreed with him—or maybe it was because of pressure in Cleveland from an anti-Mafia drive led by Eliot Ness of “Untouchables” fame—he moved his operations to Vegas shortly after.
Dalitz emerged as one of the city’s most visible gangster-investors during the 1950s. There were some who believed he orchestrated the all-important “skim” of casino profits that enriched the Mafia families back East. What is certain is that Dalitz became a respected figure in Vegas, a man who knew people, who made few waves.
“I enjoyed a very, very close relationship with Moe Dalitz that is so difficult to explain,” Adelson says. “He was … ” There is a long pause. “Well, we did a deal once. We shook hands and he said, ‘I want you to remember something. You just signed a contract when you shook my hand. I want you to remember that the rest of your life; that handshake is better than any contract a lawyer will have you sign.’ So I know you’re thinking, How do you account, Merv, for the fact that Moe Dalitz was a Mob boss? All I can say is, in all the years I knew Moe, we never discussed anything criminal or illegal. I never asked him about [anything illegal]. I didn’t want to know the answer. There was a line I never wanted to cross, and I didn’t.”
Adelson’s dog, Teddy, hops up beside him on the futon. “It’s almost too much for people to believe, I know,” he goes on. “Yeah, I heard a lot of stuff. The smaller things I heard in conversation. Skimming. I heard a lot about skimming. That was how the Mob made their money in Vegas. But I didn’t even know who the real owners of the Desert Inn were. I met a lot of them, sure. Guys from back East. And I’ll tell you something: I kind of enjoyed it. It was exciting. That reputation I got, for hanging out with Moe. The bow-downs you would get when I walked into a place with Moe. You began to enjoy that kind of thing—at least I did. It’s the way Vegas was. Whatever business you were in—men’s clothing, a judge—you came into contact with people that, if you were anyplace else, it would be a terrible, terrible thing. But not in Vegas. Not then.”
Suddenly Adelson makes a face and swats his dog’s rump.
“Jesus, Teddy!” he exclaims. “Will you stop farting?”

Married to the Mob

At first Adelson knew Dalitz only as a genial golf partner. Then, in 1958, Adelson and Irwin Molasky were planning construction of a medical building when local doctors told them how badly Las Vegas needed a modern hospital. Despite knowing nothing about hospitals, Adelson and Molasky switched gears and began building one. Everything was going swimmingly until they ran short of money. “That’s when we asked Moe and Allard to come in,” says Adelson. “We had no trepidation. No. None. Zero. They brought in [the New York lawyer] Roy Cohn and others. It was amazing the number of people Moe knew like that. Everyone made money. And I served my purpose. Moe needed a legitimate businessman. I was that. Moe was the best partner I ever had.”
With the completion of Sunrise Hospital—they brought Adelson’s aging father in to run it—Adelson took Dalitz and Allard Roen into Paradise Homes as full partners. (The four-man partnership was sometimes called DRAM, for Dalitz, Roen, Adelson, Molasky.) Adelson became part of Dalitz’s entourage, making the rounds of the casinos at night and befriending scores of stars. “Las Vegas was small then, maybe 50,000 people in the whole county,” Adelson recalls. “I palled around with everybody, especially the comedians. You name it, I knew him, from Sinatra on down. Don Rickles. Bob Newhart. Dick Shawn. I knew Frank, Dean Martin—all of them. Dean was great. Frank was one of the great dichotomies of the world. He could be fantastic, and he could be evil. We all hung out in the steam room at the Sands.”
Of all his friends, though, the one constant was Dalitz. “I had read the same things everyone else had read about Moe,” Adelson goes on. “I knew people would say things about me being his partner. I just didn’t care. My conclusion was that Moe was a rumrunner during Prohibition, which he was. That’s all I thought he was. He appeared before Senate committees and the like, sure. But he had never been arrested, much less convicted. He was a rumrunner. So was Jack Kennedy’s father. In fact, Moe told me they were good friends.”
Adelson sighs. “If I was reading this, I’m not sure I would believe it,” he says. “If I was reading this, I would think, Here’s a guy who wanted to make a lot of money fast, and he did it with Moe, and he didn’t care about anything else. I know that. I’m not blind. It’s easy to come to that conclusion. Look, I knew Moe knew a lot of bad guys. I knew that. But I never saw one moment, in all the time I knew Moe, of him losing his temper or mistreating anyone in any way. It was all just innuendo.”
But then, after five years of building homes and palling around with Dalitz, the laughter abruptly stopped. It happened in 1963, with the publication of The Green Felt Jungle, the first book to chronicle the Mafia’s role in Las Vegas in detail. Dalitz was featured, and, to his horror, Adelson saw his own name in the book’s pages, in a passage describing Dalitz’s role at Sunrise Hospital. The book characterized Adelson and Molasky as Mafia front men, clean young up-and-comers who gave Dalitz an entrée into legitimate businesses.
Adelson was stunned. His friends, Dalitz included, brushed it all off as the work of clueless hacks; Adelson admits he never even considered confronting Dalitz and demanding the truth. “Why didn’t I confront him?” he asks. “I don’t know. I don’t know. He was a good guy.” But the fact was Adelson already knew the truth. And now so did everyone else in Las Vegas. When his wife went to the salon, a hairdresser remarked, “Adelson? You mean like the Mafia Adelson?”
“The question of reputational damage, it never really occurred to me, not really, until The Green Felt Jungle,” Adelson says. “I was like, What the fuck have I done? And I had to realize, I had done it. It was my fault. It might have been O.K. except I could see my kids were beginning to be affected by it. They were being teased at school.” Adelson’s daughter Ellie remembers “an experience where one of my teachers brought it to the attention of the class, and I was humiliated. I’m sure that had an impact on him.” It was the first of several occasions when Adelson was obliged to explain Dalitz to his children. “They came right out and asked me, ‘Dad, are you in the Mafia?’ I said ‘No.’ What else could I say? ‘Moe Dalitz is a friend of mine. I am not a part of the Mafia—don’t you believe it.’ ”
For the first time, Adelson says, he began thinking about getting out of Vegas. No doubt the swarms of F.B.I. and I.R.S. agents who began descending on the city hastened his decision. Adelson remembers one I.R.S. agent who stayed at the Desert Inn so long that, in a bit of black humor, the DRAM partners named one of their many shell corporations after him.
Adelson’s chance to escape came during a summer trip to the racetrack at Del Mar, outside San Diego. He and Molasky were discussing real-estate opportunities with a local broker, who volunteered to show them a tract of several thousand acres in the coastal town of Carlsbad. “I fell in love with it. Irwin too,” Adelson says. “We brought down Moe and Allard. They loved it, too.”
This was the genesis of what would become one of the most notorious resorts in Mafia history, the Rancho La Costa. The great irony, however—and what no one ever knew—was that the driving force behind La Costa’s development was Adelson’s newfound desire to distance himself from organized crime. “That was the big reason—hell, that was the only reason—I began thinking about leaving Las Vegas,” he says. “I wanted to get away from the Mafia.”
Adelson moved his family and enrolled his teenage children in the Carlsbad school system. When it came time to build the resort, however, he faced a Catch-22. He yearned to break free of the Mafia, but Dalitz was their conduit to the same pot of money that had financed Sunrise Hospital: the pension fund of Jimmy Hoffa’s mighty Teamsters union.
“Were the Teamsters mobbed up? Oh God, were they,” Adelson says. “But I didn’t know it at the time, not really. I just wanted the money. I didn’t especially care where it came from.” Had he known the extent the Teamsters were involved with the Mafia, I ask, would he have taken their money? He thinks for a long moment. “No, I wouldn’t have done it. Because that became the big grief, that was what eventually drew us into court, with all the publicity … ”
He sighs. “And Hoffa. And all that crap.”
The Rancho La Costa resort opened its doors to the public in 1965. From the outset Adelson could tell his dreams of escaping the Mafia had been dashed. “The first guests, they were all Teamsters!” he exclaims. And then Detroit and Chicago Mob bosses, all the way up to Meyer Lansky himself. “There were hundreds of them!” Adelson adds. “I couldn’t get rid of them! The Teamsters treated it like their country club. It got a real reputation. I didn’t like it at all. But I couldn’t stop it. We owed them money! What could I do?” His children were soon being teased with the same taunts they had heard in Las Vegas. He was trapped. A very rich trap, but a trap nevertheless.
The resort was thriving; vacationing mobsters were soon joined by celebrity regulars such as Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Desi Arnaz, and Sandy Koufax, to name but a few. But despite its success, Adelson insists he wanted out—out of a hotel business he knew little about, and especially out of his marriage to the Teamsters and the Mob. His opportunity, oddly, came in 1967, after the billionaire Howard Hughes took up residence at the Desert Inn, in Las Vegas. Hughes was in his crazy-hermit phase, taking up an entire floor of the hotel. When Moe Dalitz tried to evict him, Hughes responded with an offer to buy the hotel, which Dalitz accepted. All of a sudden Allard Roen was without a job, so Adelson brought him in to run La Costa.
Though still titular president of La Costa, Adelson wanted a new start, preferably one without the Mafia anywhere in sight. “That was important, yeah,” Adelson confirms. “But the fact is I got bored. I wanted something new.”
And once again he sensed just what it was: Hollywood.

Made for TV

Despite his lifelong fascination with entertainers, Adelson knew as much about making television shows as he had known about real estate and hospitals. But he saw an opening. Two studios, Columbia and Universal, dominated television production in those days, and Adelson’s comedian friends, who now included Tim Conway, Dick Van Dyke, and Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, complained incessantly about the studios’ micro-management. “My idea was to bring in the best people and let them do as they pleased,” Adelson remembers. “They would be completely free.”
But he needed a partner, “an Irwin in the television business,” as Adelson puts it. A mutual friend suggested a savvy producer named Lee Rich, who was trying to make his way in Hollywood after a career representing advertisers in the days when companies like Procter & Gamble sponsored major shows. Rich agreed to come on board, and Adelson put up $400,000 to start the new company, which they called “Lorimar”—“Lori” for Merv’s wife, “mar” for Palomar airport, which Merv and guests of La Costa would fly in and out of.
Taking offices on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, they began signing television writers. Luck was with them. One of their first recruits, Earl Hamner Jr., cranked out what became Lorimar’s first major production, a made-for-television movie called The Homecoming: A Christmas Story. The movie, a folksy family drama set in rural Virginia during the Depression, aired on CBS in December 1971. It drew strong ratings, so Adelson and Rich went to the network’s programming chief, Fred Silverman, and pitched it as a series. Silverman demurred.
“He told us, ‘Eh, way too soft—it’ll never get a number,’ ” Adelson recalls. “ ‘But if you can get Henry Fonda to play the father, maybe.’ Well, that was never going to happen. It was like ‘Yeah, well, thanks a lot.’ ”
At that point CBS’s controlling shareholder, the legendary Bill Paley, walked into the meeting. Again they made their pitch. Paley thought for a moment. “Then Paley looked at Freddie and said, quote, ‘We’ve taken a lot out of this business—let’s put something back in.’ And he made Freddie put it on the air.” Silverman had little faith in the series, which they decided to call The Waltons. He aired it Thursday at eight, up against television’s No. 2 program, NBC’s The Flip Wilson Show.
“People looked at us like ‘Good-bye, Waltons,’ ” Adelson says with a grin. “But a year later, The Waltons was a hit and Flip Wilson was off the air.”
The Waltons catapulted Lorimar into the forefront of television production, a position it cemented later in the decade, launching Eight Is Enough in 1977, Dallas the next year, then Knots Landing in 1979. Even as Lorimar rose, though, Adelson struggled to escape his past. The Mafia taint was a tar baby. By 1975, articles had begun appearing, including one in Newsweek, that noted the mafiosi flocking to La Costa, where Adelson remained a co-owner; the subtext—that Adelson was a mobster by association—was obvious.
One of La Costa’s visitors was the famed attorney Louis Nizer. “When these things would [be published], I’d show them to Louie. He would talk me out of suing. He said there was just no way to win. Moe and Irwin, I talked to them all the time about this. Moe was understanding. He knew he was the reason this had happened, and he was loyal as a friend and partner. He offered to resign, which we wouldn’t let him do. He hadn’t done anything, nothing to resign for at least.”
Then came the one article Adelson couldn’t ignore: a lavish investigative spread in the March 1975 issue of Penthouse, written by two young reporters who would go on to storied careers, Lowell Bergman and Jeff Gerth. The Penthouse piece came right out and said what everyone else was only hinting at: “La Costa has been controlled by the Moe Dalitz mob,” naming its principal members as the DRAM partners, including Adelson. Adelson was aghast. He sued.
The litigation dragged on for years, churning up unflattering stories in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere about Adelson, Dalitz, the Teamsters, and La Costa. Time and again Adelson’s family begged him to give up; he refused. Through it all, Adelson denied he ever knew Dalitz belonged to the Mafia. Eventually, in 1985, Penthouse agreed to settle, issuing a non-apology apology. Adelson actually won without winning: articles about his old Mafia ties began to disappear.
For much of Lorimar’s heyday, during the 1970s and 1980s, Adelson was one of Hollywood’s most eligible bachelors, tanned and prone to seriously unbuttoned shirts, a ladies’ man who squired starlets to premieres and parties. He and Lori had divorced. “She just got tired of me screwing around,” he admits. “I was disgusted by my own behavior. So I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t ever cheat again.” He was briefly married to Gail Kenaston, a Hollywood hostess and interior decorator. “She was a good-looking busty blonde, and we both liked outdoors stuff,” Adelson says. “But unfortunately those were the days of cocaine, and she got caught up in that. We spent a lot of time in Aspen, and Aspen was the coke capital of the world. You would go to restaurants and they had it out in bowls like sugar. I did my share, sure. But when I couldn’t sleep anymore, I just stopped.”
Then, in 1985, a friend’s wife arranged a blind date with, of all people, Barbara Walters. Both she and Adelson were cautious: they agreed to meet only for a drink, in a crowded New York bar. “I’ll never forget that night,” Adelson recalls. “Things were going well, so we went on to dinner, in this packed restaurant, standing against a wall. I was teasing her: ‘This is the kind of pull you have? You can’t get a table?’ Barbara had such a great sense of humor. ‘What are you talking about? You’re the big Hollywood mogul and you can’t get a table?’ ”
“Years ago my father [nightclub entrepreneur Lou Walters] did shows in Las Vegas,” Walters recalls, “and there were these handsome suntanned men that I used to see with these gorgeous women, and I said, ‘This is one of those men.’ It’s the type, the California man, the open shirt, the blue eyes, the white hair. He was very attractive and, for me, very different.”
Once they found a table, they talked for hours. “I could see we were both interested,” Adelson says. “So I told her, ‘I want to see you again, but before I do, you have to know a few things.’ So I told her about Moe, about the whole Mafia thing. And I think that’s when I fell in love with her. She said, ‘Well, that’s bull.’ It was such a big thing to get out of the way. I’d never done that before.”
They dated for a year, eventually marrying in 1986. From the outset, though, their bi-coastal union was challenging. “I found our marriage difficult, because we were really living on two continents,” Walters recalls. “He was never really comfortable in New York, especially in my world. I used to think sometimes he had to tip three vodkas before he would go to a dinner party with me.”
“We tried to make it work, but it’s not as easy as it sounds,” Adelson says. “Three nights a week out with her journalist friends, doing something you really didn’t want to be doing. I could do it. But I wasn’t happy.”
By 1990 both sensed it was over. In what might be viewed as a brazen act of self-sabotage, Adelson began an affair with a young lawyer at a Los Angeles firm. “I had never fooled around on Barbara, ever,” he says. “But I did [then]. I took this girl to Aspen. I’ll never forget: we were on a chairlift. All of a sudden there were two photographers on a chairlift beneath us, and they took our pictures. I forgot about it. So the very next day I went back to New York to talk to Barbara. I walk into the apartment and sat down and said, ‘We need to have a serious discussion.’ We had just started talking when the maid comes in, tells Barbara, ‘You are wanted on the phone,’ and it’s [opera diva] Beverly Sills. Beverly told her, while I was sitting in the other room, that my picture is on the cover of the National Enquirer with another woman.”
Adelson leans back and stares at the ceiling. “Well, you can imagine what happened after that.” He sighs. “True story. True story. She never really forgave me, and I don’t blame her.”
Walters counters: “He shouldn’t feel bad—that was late in our marriage. I have no regrets. He was a wonderful man.” They divorced in 1992.
At the dawn of the 1980s, Lorimar was Hollywood’s largest independent studio and was growing quickly. As C.E.O., Adelson took the company public in 1981, making him and Lee Rich very wealthy men; by the mid-1980s, Adelson was worth $80 million or more and was shuttling among homes in Malibu, Bel Air, New York, and a sprawling horse ranch outside Aspen. “Those were the days,” Adelson muses as we reconvene one morning with his dog in the lobby of the Loews hotel in Santa Monica. He tells all his favorite stories: of cutting a deal with a pre-medicated Ted Turner as Turner “bounced off the walls”; of kicking the superagent Michael Ovitz out of his office after Ovitz made some dimly remembered demand; of throwing his back out on a Hawaiian beach only to have a friend, serial MGM purchaser Kirk Kerkorian, provide a 737 jet to fly him home.
Lorimar, with annual revenues approaching $700 million, had begun diversifying, buying a few television stations; a New York advertising agency, Bozell & Jacobs; and even a handful of magazines, including Us. But there was one mountain Adelson, a child of Hollywood, still yearned to climb: movies. “That was my biggest mistake,” Adelson says as he orders a plate of pasta. “We had gotten to the point where we were looked upon as a studio. We had made the odd movie here and there. Why do more? Ego. Pride. I don’t know. We had a dream to be the first independent to make the transformation into a real studio, with a schedule of movies and television and everything. Movies were the last great challenge for me.” Again he sighs. “The fact is I let my ego and pride get away with me.”
Suddenly a smile lights up Adelson’s face.
“The black singer!” he blurts out. “Eartha Kitt!”
He pats Teddy. “I knew I’d remember that.”

Raising the Stakes

Establishing a movie business was expensive, and building the library of films required for a studio to ensure profitability could take years. But Adelson would not be deterred. A few of Lorimar’s early movies, such as An Officer and a Gentleman and the Peter Sellers vehicle Being There, did well enough. But many more were disappointments: The Big Red One, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, The Last Starfighter,Cruising. “I don’t think I knew enough about movies,” Adelson admits. “Lee either. It’s not the same as the TV business. The only thing that’s the same is the ability to spot talent.”
After buying the old MGM lot, which allowed Adelson to move into Louis B. Mayer’s famed office, Lorimar certainly looked like a movie studio. But by 1985 the 24 movies it had made had generated a reported total loss of $12 million. The studio had continued making television series, including a few successes, most notably the sitcom Perfect Strangers, but once Lorimar’s early shows started going off the air, its income stream appeared increasingly in doubt. Adelson doubled down, merging with Telepictures, a production outfit known for the syndicated People’s Court.
The Telepictures merger, however, bringing with it a raft of hungry young newcomers, exacerbated growing tensions between Adelson and Lee Rich, who increasingly felt overshadowed. “Lee and I had a great run, 18, 19 years,” Adelson says. “For 15, 16 of those years we had fun. What went wrong?” He heaves a heavy sigh; neither he nor Rich ever discussed their breakup publicly. “Lee got married. A wealthy woman. He moved to a huge home. White-coated help, butlers. That was not Lee, but he was enjoying it. He would tell stories of the day, unloading on his wife. She starts saying, ‘Why is Merv getting all the publicity? Why not you?’ That’s what started it, and it went downhill from there. It changed the dynamic between us. It became a different atmosphere. At the end, he was bitter. It was what happens in a marriage. I really don’t know what happened to Lee. I don’t. He was a good guy.”
Rich resigned in 1986, taking a post at MGM/United Artists; it was an ominous portent. Afterward, Lorimar’s movies only got worse; without Rich’s creative insights, its television shows were beginning to flag as well. For the first time Lorimar began reporting quarterly losses. “The amount of money Dallas, Knots Landing, and Perfect Strangers brought in, it was just huge,” Adelson says. “So why’d I sell? Because I was scared shitless that a couple more series would go off the air. If we made a mistake, we would’ve been in big trouble. [Our stock] was still high, the values were there, so [in 1988] I put out the word I might be interested in selling.”
A meeting with Disney’s president, his pal Frank Wells, went nowhere: Disney would never pay the price he sought, Adelson says. When Warner Communications’ Steve Ross heard about the meeting, he struck an agreement to buy Lorimar for $1.2 billion. At roughly the same time, Adelson and Irwin Molasky sold La Costa to a Japanese company for $250 million. Adelson was jubilant. With his net worth approaching $300 million, he took a job as Time Warner’s vice-chairman and a seat on its board, and set to work enjoying what remained of the wonderful new life he had built for himself in Hollywood.
The same year, in Las Vegas, Moe Dalitz died at the age of 89. Adelson did not attend his funeral.
When he turned 65, in 1994, Adelson was a man who seemingly had everything: money, power, free time, even a pretty wife 33 years his junior: Thea, the lawyer he had cheated on Barbara Walters with. The couple was soon raising two daughters. They spent much of their time on Adelson’s 40-acre ranch outside Aspen, the Lazy A, which featured three hot tubs, a golf hole, and a horse barn so sumptuous it was featured in Architectural Digest. He still had homes in Malibu and Bel Air, as well as his beloved Citation jet. Plunging into philanthropy, Adelson donated millions to charitable causes, taking seats on the boards of the Aspen Institute, Michael Milken’s CAP Cure foundation, and Jerusalem’s Museum of Tolerance. He was an ardent supporter of Israel’s, befriending Bibi Netanyahu and acting as go-between with Bill Clinton. Adelson had so many friends in the Israeli military that when he and Thea were marooned aboard a yacht after a storm off the coast of Yemen—the boat nearly sank—the Israeli Air Force flew to their rescue.
As for business, his timing seemed perfect. He established a venture-capital fund, called East West Venture Group, which invested heavily in Internet start-ups. He mentored any number of young Internet entrepreneurs, hosting dinners and parties to introduce them to his Hollywood friends, and during the late 1990s a number of his start-ups thrived. But everything began to unravel in 2000, when the Internet bubble famously burst. Adelson stood by almost every one of his new ventures, losing tens of millions in the process.
But the killer was Time Warner. In January 2000, the company agreed to merge with AOL, in what is still the largest merger in U.S. history, and probably the most ill-conceived. When the bubble burst, AOL Time Warner’s stock price began to fall, eventually plunging from a high of $58 all the way to a low of $7. Adelson, amazingly, never sold a single share, a decision that cost him $141 million. Why? One friend says Adelson simply never believed the stock wouldn’t recover. But Adelson insists it’s more complicated. In the 1990s, he says, at a time when other directors were concerned about communication with Time Warner’s C.E.O., Gerald Levin, the board had asked him to cozy up to Levin in an effort to anticipate his next moves. As a result, Adelson says, his lawyers told him it wasn’t safe to sell Time Warner stock, even after he resigned from the board in 2000; being so close to Levin, he risked being charged with insider trading. His daughter Ellie confirms she was given the same advice.
Between 2000 and 2003, Adelson watched as 90 percent of his net worth evaporated. “It was like The Perfect Storm,” he says. “I got hit more than Joe Louis got hit in his entire career. I didn’t know where it was coming from next.” He might have survived, except that he had borrowed heavily to support the lifestyle of his dreams. Worse, he had used AOL Time Warner stock as collateral. By the spring of 2003 his debts approached $112 million, far more than his stock was worth. Thea asked for a divorce.
Everything came to a head on June 8, 2003. That morning Adelson climbed into his Chevy Suburban, strapped his two-year-old daughter, Ava, into the backseat, and drove into Aspen, where at 7:36 he lost control of the vehicle, striking two cars, a street sign, and a pair of trees. After he was taken to the hospital, where no drugs or alcohol were found in his system, he was charged with reckless driving and child endangerment. His lawyer claimed Adelson had suffered a small stroke. The charges were immediately dropped, but it was over. The ranch was sold. Three months later he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
There was a little publicity, a piece in Fortune, another in Variety, but he was no longer so big a name. At first Adelson refused to accept what had happened. “Even when he filed for bankruptcy, I don’t think he ever thought that was going to last,” says Ellie. “He saw himself coming back, making money again. There was never a question in his mind he would end up old and broke. It’s only been in the last four, five years that he’s come to that conclusion.”
These days he changes addresses frequently; by one count, he has moved 13 times in the last seven years. Thea took the Malibu house. Ten years later she is still suing him for more child support. He has tried in vain to launch a new venture or two, a children’s program in 2004, a television show about the early days of Las Vegas, even a poker-themed show at a Vegas casino—the casino ended up suing him. He won’t say how much money he has left, but it clearly isn’t much, well under a million dollars. One source of income is Time Warner, which gave him a consulting contract in 2010 that requires little of him; it was almost certainly a favor from old friends.
“In the end, I came out with enough money to live,” he says. “I don’t have a lot extra. But I’m living well enough.”
He reaches down and smooths Teddy’s fur.
“And you know, I don’t remember losing a single friend. Everyone’s been nice, you know? How would I like to be remembered? I’d like to be remembered as a nice guy. That’s a pretty good thing.”
http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2013/03/tv-producer-merv-adelson-las-vegas-mob

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