Thursday, May 26, 2016

John Pilati: A Classic Case of Misdirection?

Misdirection? It’s a magician, or even a murderer, making the audience look in one direction while he or she actually performs the intended, but furtive, action. Could misdirection be what John Frederick Pilati’s quest for reinstatement to the Alabama Bar was all about?

Pilati served one term as Franklin County District Attorney before being convicted of a federal misdemeanor and losing his political rights. He later was convicted of five more federal misdemeanors and required to register as a sex offender.

In March of this year, the State of Alabama restored Pilati’s political rights, but not his right to own or possess a firearm. At that time, we had two questions about the matter, but obtaining any information has been difficult at best.

Our first question: Does one automatically lose political rights if convicted of a federal misdemeanor? The federal attorney’s office in Birmingham refused to answer our questions without an official written request from an attorney, so we’ll just say that apparently the state does rescind these rights since a federal misdemeanor is so much more serious than a misdemeanor committed at the local level.

Our second question asked how the state was entitled to restore rights removed by a federal conviction or to remove a miscreant from the sex offenders’ registry. Again, we have no official answer. We can say that there is no federal sex offender registry—only the state’s. It would seem logical that the state could remove an offender placed there by the federal government if it so desired. It could also restore political rights within the state.

We were mildly surprised that Pilati did not have his right to own a firearm restored, but perhaps the state had its reasons. Here’s a comment that appeared on our FB page:

17 years ago, when I was 16, I was riding the Russellville strip when this man in an unmarked suv with no lights or markers ran my car off the road and almost killed me. I, being young, dumb, and full of testosterone followed him and confronted him about it. So the man pulls a gun on me and says "I'm John Pilati, the D.A. of Franklin County and you're interfering with an investigation." I wasn't interfering with anything. I just wanted to know why this guy tried to wreck me and kill me. After his cronies ran my license they finally let me go. This guy's a joke and will put other people's lives on the line just so he can arrest somebody. He never needs to work in politics or law enforcement again. He's got a short fuse and is a danger to society.

Apparently the first inkling many in Franklin County and the Shoals had of Pilati’s restored political rights came when the Franklin County School Board chose the former DA as one of three candidates for the county board of equalization. Let’s think about this; who on the school board nominated Pilati? How did this member even know that Pilati was now entitled to serve on the board and how did he/she know that Pilati would even want to serve? Obviously Pilati was approaching various Franklin County citizens in his attempt to return to public life.

An article in the Franklin County Times then related Pilati’s quest to return to the practice of law. Yes, that was the official reason for Pilati seeking to have his political rights restored and his name removed from the sex offender registry. Was that the only reason?

Only around 50% of disbarred attorneys in this state who seek to return to an actual law practice are able to do so. Pilati also had to have known he would have at least a modicum of strong opposition.

Does Pilati need the money? His family owns Pilati Investments which controls a local television station and the Franklin Free Press which John Pilati runs. Pilati himself, along with a partner, owns Golden Tiger Properties, a company involved in various land sales. The practice of law can be tedious for the most dedicated of attorneys; does the former Franklin DA fall into that dedicated category?

From anecdotal evidence, Pilati often participated in the day to day police operations of Franklin County. Do you ever hear of the Lauderdale DA appearing personally at the raid of some dope house or the Colbert DA overseeing drug tests for probationers? No, Pilati was hands on, and probably for the adrenalin rush as much as any deviant pleasure he was accused of getting from his job.

A reader yesterday told of personal opposition of six FBI agents at Pilati's bar association hearing. Yet another reader has stated the opposite:

I've spoken to someone who was actually there. There was no FBI agents there. There were no opposition witnesses there at all. The only one opposition witness was Alice Martin who opposed via telephone. Pilati had 5-6 people testify FOR him, but no one was actually present to testify against him.

A third reader has replied:

Not sure who was at Pilati’s hearing in person, but I’m told there were numerous letters written and on file against him.

Now we have Pilati with rights restored, but no real law practice (he may use his legal expertise in other business activities); so did he benefit from having his political rights restored? Misdirection? Perhaps Pilati’s main thrust in seeking the restoration of his political rights wasn’t to resume a law practice? Perhaps it was to enable him to run for political office?

Pilati obviously has political connections. Would he desire to run for mayor? It’s a possibility, but that office is a thankless one filled with minutiae and bureaucracy. A more likely choice would be a run for the state house against Larry Stutts.

Would Pilati have a chance? We think he would…and he would fit right in.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

John Pilati Update

From an informed reader:

(John Frederick) Pilati's reinstatement (to the Alabama bar) was denied. I heard from a reliable source that six FBI agents showed up to testify against him. I don't think the transcripts are available to the public, but if so, I bet they are interesting. 

From what I understand, he can petition every year for reinstatement, but it will now be harder due to the first denial on file and all of the opposition that was logged. And I believe he has to prove that he is worthy instead of them proving he is not. His first shot was his best chance. I don't think he was expecting as much opposition as he received.

We expect to have more on this later.



(I'm) obtaining tons of reports on life after kratom in Alabama. Countless people are being sent back to the doctor and dope house. Just as predicted. Many people who were using kratom as maintenance therapy have relapsed. God forbid people use a plant they can obtain cheaply or even grow. We know methadone and suboxone to be so safe and all.


Be sure to catch H.D.'s latest review on Quad-Cities Cuisine:

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

City Elections/Return to Zodiac/Water

A guest editorial:

City Elections

Ahh yes, it is that time again, the time for City and Town Elections. This is the time where Mayors and City Council members go out to “press the flesh.” They will be “kissing hands and shaking babies”, or something like that. I think the powder keg election will be the City of Sheffield. I have already heard of several people that are speaking about running against the elected Officials.

Remember folks, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain about how the City or Town is being run. If you don’t like it, do something about it. Go to the City or Town Council meetings. Your voice will not be heard if you are not there.

Next, don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is no stupid question. If you don’t understand what they are talking about in the Council meetings, ask. That is the only way you are going to find out. Education such as this is free.

I want to say that is was good to see the Owner/Publisher/Director of the Shoals Insider the other night. He has had some ups and downs but he was in good spirits, looked good and was excited to see the Shoals Insider back up and going. Welcome back, Brother.

Until next time:

I am and always will be, the Midnight Rider.


Another reader with an entirely different take on a recent Zodiac Theatre play:

Unlike the previous reader, I very much enjoyed the play Sordid Lives at the Zodiac and experienced NONE of the “problems” this reader says he/she encountered. Obviously this is a failed actor, turned down for any role in the play, scorned and out for blood. To that person, I say, “You Suck!”

You can complain about the prices all you want but just remember, no one forced you to pay $15 a ticket. That was your choice. You sound as miserable as a person can be with your gripes and complaints about everything from a person's laughter, to a baby making sounds, to way the ticket taker took your ticket, to the freaking lighting. Why on earth did you go in the first place? Keep your miserable, hateful, negative self at home. No one will EVER give a ****.

And by the way, the director is an absolutely wonderful person and unfortunately lost his Mom on Sunday so shame on you for kicking a man when he is already down. This was a well produced play with an EXCELLENT cast of LOCAL citizens, all which have other jobs and other responsibilities in life and participate in these local plays as a hobby to have fun and bring enjoyment to the lives of others. You should take lessons from them and learn how to be happy.


Are you "in the know" about your water supply? No matter where you live in northwest Alabama...or anywhere in the should be able to have access to fresh and pure water. From time to time, this has been a problem for some small towns. Now it's a problem for a large area in Lawrence and  Morgan Counties.

If you're not sure which entity supplies your water, call the number on your utility or water bill and ask. If you have more questions, continue to ask. Google the name of your water supplier. This is not Flint, Michigan. 

If you still have questions, contact local press. Contact us. Contact your state representative's office. 

It's a sad day when the Rime of the Ancient Mariner applies to us.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Another Administrative Position?/Zodiac Theatre

From the TD: New Administrator at Muscle Shoals Schools


Will MSCS hire someone experienced in Special Programs or just move another inept employee around to keep it in the "faMily"?

It will be interesting to see exactly who is put into this newly CREATED position. Will it be someone from outside the faMily that has vast knowledge and experience in the field, or just another recycled employee that can't do the job they are currently in, or maybe going to be out of?

Times Daily only lists 26 administrators. You can now add secretaries, assistants to the secretary and office personnel to the number of "administrators", MSCS has about a 1 to 80 ratio to students. If you really want to boggle your mind, count all the coaches and support employees and that employee to student ratio is more like a classroom ratio of 1 to 17.

Don't panic parents, the City Council will bail them out - with YOUR money.

On the next new position hire: Pam Russell, "It is hard to run a program when you are in meetings all day.”

Maybe MSCS would be better stewards of time and the TAXPAYERS' MONEY if they each learned their own job, rather than including other employees in their travel parties. MSCS is a "travelocityschool" with the administrators going to conferences. If the administrator can't understand the content of the meeting, the philosophy is to carry along your assistant so they can do your job (or digest the information and regurgitate it in simple terms for the struggling administrator).

Special called meetings seem to be the norm in MSCS. Recent hires of yet another Coach - Perry Swindle - and of course his wife will be coming along with a nice salary package as an administrator as well.

Exactly what does Perry Swindle's new job title entail? What is his salary? How many coaches does it take for MSCS to get it right?

Maybe Swindle will save Basden this year. Lord only knows, he hasn't been able to do it on his own.

Something that causes the average person to go hmmmmmmm.

Stay tuned for another special called meeting. You can rest assured it will be another shuffle and musical chairs game in the faMily.

Leslie M. Shoals


From a reader:

This weekend, I had a disappointing experience going to the Zodiac Theater for a show produced by Shoals Community Theatre. The play, Sordid Lives, is a well known comedy and the director had appeared in many productions locally for the past thirty years. People in the area who had seen the production suggested it was the funniest production they had ever seen. So how could it go wrong?

It began 15 minutes before the show began. I was greeted by a very rude box office staff who seemed to treat patrons as second citizens unless they knew them personally. It seems that lines do not matter in the Shoals Community Theater. If you know someone, you can skip the line, but don’t you dare try to buy a ticket or pick up a ticket if you’re a stranger. After quite the struggle with the box office volunteers I entered the theater.

Unfortunately, due to fire in the original theater downtown, the play was moved to the Zodiac Theater. The Zodiac is a unique space converted many decades ago from a car garage into a theater. There have been no renovations since. The theater felt like it could fall in at any time and the lights were hung with no safety cables above patrons’ heads. The theater, at least that evening, was not air conditioned, and the presence of dust and mold made my allergies flourish.

The show itself was ruined before it began. Apparently, Shoals Community Theater allows infants in the theater. This would be acceptable if it were a Gingerbread production, but not at a production by the Zodiac Players. Albeit very cute, the presence of a baby in a theatre is highly distracting as she was making noise throughout the show and often held high in the air, blocking those sitting behind her.

The quality of the production was sub-par. Yes, it is a community theatre production with an all volunteer cast and crew, so production quality should not be measured against that of a professional theater. Compared to other community theater productions, though, the quality was still lacking. Having some actors amplified and others not in a tiny 150 seat theater was unnecessary. The slow pacing of the play that included 5-10 minute-long scene changes made a 2 hour show with an intermission into a nearly 3 hour show. Worse, the director clearly wanted to be on stage, overshadowing his cast by laughing heartily after each line and singing louder than the cast during musical numbers.

The price for a ticket was $15 (with a $2 unexplainable service charge for buying at the box office). For $17, one could see a number of professional quality productions across the state. This weekend, Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson produced by The Dane in Birmingham, for example, had a ticket campaign “A Hamilton for a Jackson,” in which tickets to the highly acclaimed musical were just $10. It featured a professional set, director, musicians, and actors in a theater similar in size to the Zodiac, but tickets were $7 less. I would like an explanation how Shoals Community Theater justifies selling tickets for $17 for a straight play in which everyone involved is an amateur. The rights and royalties are not expensive, the technical aspects of the play were not nearly professional quality, and all other production costs are minuscule compared to that of a larger musical or production at a larger theater. Where is that money going? It certainly isn’t the theater upkeep in either space.

All this to say, Florence should expect better a theatre going experience from its premier community theatre company.


We have been asked the current status of John F. Pilati's law license. Apparently there are rumors floating around that Pilati was denied reinstatement to the Alabama Bar. Pilati was also at one time a member of the Mississippi bar. At this time we can say with certainty only that as of five o'clock this afternoon, Pilati was not a current member of either bar association. We will update this when more information is available.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

William Marshall Gardner

Florence attorney Marshall Gardner passed away earlier this month. A friend and long-time reader has sent us an addendum to his obituary:

William Marshall Gardner was born August 16, 1951, in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. While his early life was spent in Virginia, both his parents had deep roots in Alabama where they moved after Marshall’s father William V. (Bill) Gardner retired. Marshall’s mother Corrine Davis Gardner’s family was from the Elgin Community via Muscle Shoals. Marshall was always extremely fond of his Elgin relatives, and they of him.

After high school graduation, Marshall entered the army and served at Kagnew Station in Ethiopia, now Eritrea. Some of his most vivid military memories were of Kagnew, and he proudly displayed the Kagnew emblem on his Jeep for years.

After leaving the army the first time, Marshall received a degree in political science and education from UNA, being commissioned a Second Lieutenant upon his graduation. For the next 15 years Marshall traveled the world working for the NSA. When his mother once commented on her nephew who was an executive with Reynolds Metals and “flew all over the world,” Marshall replied that he did also, but in his case he drove the plane. Indeed, Marshall flew missions over Iraq during his long military career and later received his commercial pilot’s license.

Upon leaving the active military, Marshall taught for a short period in Florida. An avid baseball fan, he was always extremely proud that two of the young men he taught went on to play professional ball.

Deciding to enter the practice of law, Marshall attended school at Ohio Northern and practiced for a short time in Hawaii before returning home to the Shoals. Arriving too late to take the bar exam in Alabama for that year, he first passed the Tennessee bar and practiced in that state before becoming licensed in Alabama.

As an attorney, Marshall performed his pro bono work for animal welfare. He loved all animals, but especially Boston Terriers and cats, often entertaining others with tales of his ginger girl Rum Tum Tugger who looked like Humphrey Bogart and Tallulah with “half tail at full sail.” While working as an adjunct at UNA, Marshall never missed an opportunity to visit with Leo and Una.

A member of MENSA, he admired intelligence, wit, and style. He greatly championed the First Amendment while espousing a sensible approach to the Second.

An avid student of local history, Marshall was delighted when he had the opportunity to make the former Pine Street home of Charles Wescott Negley his law office. Marshall was also a Civil War Scholar whose knowledge of that conflict and those who wrote of it was probably unsurpassed in the Shoals. His favorite Confederate was Gen. Joe Wheeler, and he always hoped the South would rise again. Marshall was a brilliant satirist, his tastes in literature were catholic, and he could quote Kipling by heart.

As someone who took moderate to conservative stances on political issues, Marshall at one time commented frequently as “daybeggar” on the old TimesDaily forum. He was delighted to have been made an honorary member of the Republican Women’s Club.

Marshall’s only sibling Don once gave him the complete collection of Elvis Presley recordings which he cherished, but his favorite artist was Jimmy Dale Gilmore who sang of “commitin’ suicide in self defense.” Sadly, Don Gardner passed away as a result of an accident in 2010.

Marshall always cared deeply for Don’s two children. Nephew Will Gardner of Winchester, Virginia, and niece Lara Gardner Allen of Birmingham also survived Marshall.

Marshall took a special interest in the Alabama Veteran’s Museum in Athens where a brick in his honor lies in the courtyard. As an alternative memorial choice, there’s nothing more fitting than a gift to this institution.


Each of us at Shoalanda Speaks offers our sincere sympathy to Mr. Gardner's friends and family.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Bama Bastards?

It's not unusual to see jokes online that refer to "baby mama" and "baby daddy;" however, besides being ungrammatical, these colloquialisms are no laughing matter in terms of what illegitimate births cost the state. In 2014, Auburn University published a study linking illegitimate births to crime and poverty. In other words, individuals with more education, money, and morals marry before reproducing.

So just what are illegitimacy rates/facts in Alabama?

* For the last year available, 42.6% of all state births were to unmarried women.
* In over half illegitimate births, the father chose not to take responsibility for the child unless forced to do so in court.
* Up to 90% of illegitimate children will not have their biological father in their lives by the age of five.
* Seven Alabama counties had an illegitimacy rate of over 70%: Macon, Wilcox, Sumter, Dallas, Lowndes, Perry, and Greene.
* African-American unwed mothers outnumber white unwed mothers by two to one.
* Predominately white Shelby County had the lowest illegitimacy rate at 17.7%.
* Instead of learning from mistakes, 40% to 50% of unmarried women giving birth in Alabama already had one child born outside of marriage.
* Since 1992, the majority of welfare recipients, not just in Alabama, but all states, have been unmarried mothers. The majority of these recipients never had a permanent partner or have been deserted by their partners.
* As many as 65% of unwed mothers in Alabama do not have a high school diploma. Of the other 35%, many suffer from various mental illnesses.
* One in five men in prison in the U.S. are unwed fathers, some becoming fathers while technically incarcerated. New laws in many states prohibit mothers from seeking child support from prison work or work release income.
* It costs each taxpayer in Alabama $85.00 a year for each child on Medicaid. The cost per taxpayer for illegitimate children on Medicaid is well over $100.00. This amount does not cover other welfare that the illegitimate child receives.
* According to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, the average IQ of an illegitimate child is 20 points less than its legitimate counterpart.This increases the stigma of illegitimacy.

Should the educated, intelligent, and caring of Alabama be concerned about the above statistics? Before anyone says "meh," think about that $100.00 in taxes each year going to support these children.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Florence Mayoral Race

As it stands now, four candidates are running for the position of mayor of the Shoals' largest town:

1. Mickey Haddock - Incumbent, former license commissioner

2. Billy Ray Simpson - Activist, preacher, perennial candidate

3. Susan Goode - Florence businesswoman with strong backers

4. Steve Holt - Recently retired as head of Shoals Chamber of Commerce

With four candidates, and we may as well be honest here, three of them strong contenders, there is bound to be a runoff. We'll have more information on these candidates in the near future. We encourage them to send us their platforms, and we encourage readers to send us questions they would like the candidates to answer.


Florence District One City Council? This will be the council race to watch with several factors coming into play. Stay tuned.



Times Daily featured videos....

Coach Lindsey "......................................Underage drinking is on the decline so to speak, we're seeing more, uh, hearing about more drunk use......................

Did Coach Lindsey have a little slip of the truth and had to catch himself real quick?
Yes, Muscle Shoals, you do have a problem.

Leslie M. Shoals


Not enough evidence to prosecute or just good ol' boy cronyism? It seems an attorney who toils in Franklin County, but whose main office is in Marion, has borrowed a substantial amount of money from a client. The loan was unsecured, and the client has been described as "elderly."

Marion County authorities won't prosecute this attorney for any type of unscrupulous conduct aimed at an older client. Is there lack or evidence or something much more sinister?

Moral: Make sure any loan you make is secured with a promissory note.

(We may have more on this later.)