Over the years, reporters at the Memphis Flyer have uncovered quite a few political scandals. Sometimes the resulting news stories pissed off the accused pols, resulting in angry phone calls, e-mails, and letters.
In March 1999, all the Flyer racks went missing from the Criminal Justice Center at 201 Poplar after the paper ran two stories about corruption at the Shelby County Sheriff's Department — one about an out-of-court sexual-harassment settlement between then-Sheriff A.C. Gilless and former sheriff's department dispatcher Louise Charlene Taylor and another story about nepotism within the department.
According to reporter Phil Campbell's story, papers disappeared from the racks after the corruption stories hit stands. When Flyer circulation manager Robbie French attempted to refill the emptied racks, a 201 Poplar employee told him he was "wasting his time because someone in Gilless' office was sending two women in plainclothes to remove the papers."
The following week, French discovered all the Flyer racks inside the building also had disappeared. Then-editor Dennis Freeland filed a complaint with the Shelby County police, the security force for county buildings. The empty racks were discovered near the freight and service elevators inside 201 Poplar.
Though the culprit was never revealed, then-Mayor Jim Rout issued a notice to employees to return the racks to the Criminal Justice Center. The memo also warned employees that they would be prosecuted if caught restraining lawful trade inside county buildings. — Bianca Phillips