Chick-fil-A Contract Prompts Expansion

A new contract to service more than 150 Chick-fil-A restaurants has prompted Maines Paper & Food Service Inc. to nearly double the size of its Arlington facility.

The foodservice distributor recently added 60 new jobs and about 44,000 square feet to its existing Arlington warehouse, at 11420 Gulf Stream Road.

Maines’ Arlington facility now measures 98,000 square feet and employs 179. New technology and equipment as well as energy-efficient upgrades are among the added features at the new building.

“The expansion is a response to the recently awarded contract to service over 150 Chick-fil-A restaurants in addition to the 405 Wendy’s and 43 Burger King locations already serviced by Maines from our Arlington Distribution Center,” said CEO and president Chris Mellon in a statement.

The company filed a $3 million building permit application in December with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement. Another $2.5 million permit was filed in February.

Conklin, N.Y.-based Maines Paper & Food Service Inc. will formally open its expanded Arlington facility Aug. 19. Company executives as well as executives from Chick-fil-A are expected to speak.

The Maines facility sits on 6.1 acres at the northeast corner of Gulf Stream Road and Tenn. 385.

Maines counts annual revenue of more than $4 billion. It employs more than 2,400 people nationwide.

– Daily News staff

One Beale Clears Last Government Hurdle

The $160 million One Beale twin tower development cleared its last local government hurdle Tuesday, Aug. 4, with a council vote approving the project at Beale Street and Riverside Drive.

In other action Tuesday, the council gave final approval to a redistricting plan that takes into account the annexations of south Cordova and the Wyndike/Southwind area since the 2011 city elections.

The shift of four precincts out of council District 2 comes after the filing deadline for the 13 city races on the October ballot. It is not believed to have affected any candidates in those races.

The council approved on the second of three readings the ordinance calling for the move of the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in Health Sciences Park.

In other planning and development items, the council approved a Subaru auto dealership at Misty Meadows Lane and Hacks Cross Road.

The council also delayed a vote on a used-car lot at 3297 Summer Ave., where the Cottage restaurant currently stands, for a new design of the building that goes with the car lot.

– Bill Dries

Bates Family Indicted on $18 Million Fraud

After years of controversy and civil litigation, Memphis federal prosecutors announced Wednesday, Aug. 5, that a grand jury has indicted former Tennessee state Rep. Larry Bates and his two sons on multiple counts of mail and wire fraud and fraud conspiracy.

Bates and his sons, Chuck and Robert Bates, all worked for the family business, First American Monetary Consultants Inc. The three are accused of swindling more than 300 people in at least nine states of $18 million over an 11-year period starting in 2002.

FAMC buys, sells and trades in gold and silver coins. Bates and his sons encourage customers to buy gold and silver to protect themselves from an economic calamity.

The indictment alleges that customers were not getting the gold and silver coins they bought. In some cases they would get a partial order, sometimes none at all.

It also alleges that the three defendants’ belief in what the elder Bates termed a “mystery Babylon” – a period of economic and political chaos – was a part of the alleged swindle.

The complaints from customers have resulted in several civil lawsuits in recent years and the company being put into court-ordered receivership in 2013.

“Unfortunately, hundreds of these victims never received the coins they purchased,” said U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton in a written statement. “Instead, their money was used by the defendants to fund lofty salaries and exorbitant lifestyles.”

Larry Bates is a former state representative from Hardeman County in West Tennessee who has also run for Congress over the years. He is CEO of FAMC.

Chuck Bates is executive vice president of FAMC and news director of Information Radio Network Inc.

Robert Bates is an economist with FAMC.

Each faces up to 30 years in prison on the fraud counts and up to 20 years in prison on the conspiracy counts.

– Bill Dries

Huey’s CEO Tapped as Restaurateur of the Year

Huey’s Restaurant president and CEO Lauren McHugh Robinson is the 2015 Tennessee Restaurateur of the Year.

The Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association presented her with the honor at its annual awards banquet Tuesday, Aug. 4, after choosing her based on factors like her industry knowledge and experience and involvement in the Memphis community, among other things.

According to the industry association, the honor is “the pinnacle of industry achievement.” Honorees are nominated by their peers, and each year’s nominees and winners are chosen by a panel of previous winners.

Robinson got started in the restaurant industry at a young age, with her father Thomas Boggs, working at Huey’s Midtown. She worked over the years both in the kitchen and as a server. She became CEO of the company in 2008.

In addition to Huey’s, she’s also the president and managing partner of Folk’s Folly Prime Steak House, as well as a partner in The Half Shell and Tsunami.

– Andy Meek

Uber Reaches Deal with Memphis Airport

A popular ride-sharing service has reached an agreement to operate at Memphis International Airport, the second company to do so in recent months.

Uber and the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority have reached a deal that immediately enables the ride-sharing platform’s driver-partners to pick up and drop off at Memphis International Airport.

The airport reached a similar agreement with the ride-sharing company Lyft in June.

– Amos Maki

Reverb Coffee Truck Coming in October

Jeremy Harris is preparing to add a coffee truck to the ranks of Memphis’ food truck community this fall.

Harris, the founder of Memphis-based micro roaster Reverb Coffee Co., is launching his truck – which he anticipates calling the Reverb Coffee Truck – in early October, an extension of the Reverb brand he launched in 2013.

“(It’s) to expand my business and give my brand better visibility throughout the city,” Harris told The Daily News. “I like the mobile concept because it’s cheaper, and I have more flexibility to go to different events throughout the city.”

Harris said he will park the truck and continue to conduct roasting at his private roastery, but he plans to move the whole operation to a public space at some point.

The “Reverb” part of the business name reflects Harris’ intent to be a force for good in the community – to reverberate. Underscoring that theme is the phrase “Great coffee for a greater good,” a tagline and mission for Reverb.

The business started out by selling coffee online and at established businesses like Trolley Stop Market and Maggie’s Pharm.

Harris’ truck, meanwhile, is joining a vibrant local food truck scene that’s welcomed other new trucks and similar entrepreneurs lately. This week’s issue of The Memphis News, sister publication of The Daily News, presents a look at that scene via conversations with several food truckers, who talk about why and how they do what they do and what it takes to make a food truck successful in Memphis. The issue hits newsstands Friday, Aug. 7.

– Andy Meek

$9.5 Million Permit Filed for New Downtown Hotel

GCG Hospitality Inc. has pulled a $9.5 million building permit for a one-acre site at 310 Union Ave. it purchased in January.

The company plans to build a four-story, suburban-style LaQuinta Inn & Suites with 104 guest rooms.

The site, situated at Union and Danny Thomas Boulevard, was formerly home to a New York Suit Exchange store. It sits at the entrance to the Downtown core, one block east of AutoZone Park. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2015 tax appraisal value is $856,100.

The owner of the company, Gopal Govan, also owns the Quality Inn Hotel at 42 S. Camilla St. and the vacant Wonder Bread/Hostess retail store at 341 Monroe Ave.

– Wendy Greenlaw, Chandler Reports

EU to Probe FedEx Takeover of Rival TNT

European Union regulators are opening an in-depth probe into whether FedEx’s proposed $4.9 billion takeover of Dutch company TNT Express would strangle competition in the massive market for small package deliveries.

Memphis-based FedEx confirmed Friday, July 31, the European Commission had initiated a Phase II review of the company’s offer to acquire all the issued and outstanding shares of TNT Express.

EU Antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said Friday she had to “make sure that FedEx’s takeover of TNT would not impede effective competition and would not lead to higher prices for consumers.”

The transaction is also being reviewed by other antitrust agencies, including the Ministry of Commerce in China and Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Economica in Brazil.

“We will continue to work together with TNT Express to meet the European Commission’s need for additional due diligence and are confident that the combination of both companies will increase competition and create benefits for customers,” said David Binks, president of FedEx Express Europe, in a statement.

FedEx expects the deal to close in the first half of 2016, pending necessary approvals.

The FedEx-TNT deal, announced in April, came two years after UPS dropped its takeover bid for the Dutch company, citing objections from EU regulators who feared the combined company would become too dominant.

The European Commission said UPS and DHL would be the only two other viable players in the European market.

– Amos Maki/The Associated Press

Wunderlich Taps New General Counsel

Memphis-based investment firm Wunderlich Securities has named James Ritt as its new chief compliance officer and general counsel.

He has 30 years of experience in the securities industry, including serving as general counsel for Memphis-based Morgan Keegan from 1998 to 2012. More recently, he served as general counsel and chief legal officer for Birmingham-based Sterne Agee Group from 2012 to 2014.

During his 14-year tenure at Morgan Keegan, Ritt was involved in the firm’s transition from a public company to a subsidiary of Regions Financial and later its sale to Raymond James.

– Andy Meek

The Shops of Collierville Sells for $7.4 Million

Mount Pleasant, S.C.-based Ziff Properties Inc. has acquired The Shops of Collierville for $7.4 million, according to a special warranty deed filed Aug. 3.

The 60,000-square-foot retail center consists of three properties located at 849 W. Poplar Ave., 853 W. Poplar Ave. and 875 W. Poplar Ave.

The properties have been held by 875 West Poplar Avenue Holdings LLC since August 2012 when the center foreclosed for $7.9 million. It was one of 11 commercial properties in Memphis and Collierville that were foreclosed when former owner Nightingale Properties LLC of New York defaulted on a $25.6 million loan

Current Shops of Collierville tenants include Starbucks, Medpost Urgent Care, Back Yard Burgers, Pizza Hut, Baskin Robbins and The UPS Store.

“We are excited to expand our ever-growing portfolio into Collierville,” said Christian Chamblee, Ziff’s director of acquisitions and COO, in a statement. “The neighborhoods and commerce of the Collierville market are attractive for investment.”

Founded in 1992, Ziff Properties specializes in the development, acquisition and management of commercial properties across the Southeast. The company’s 35-property portfolio includes shopping centers, office buildings, flex centers, light industrial properties and self-storage facilities.

– Wendy Greenlaw, Chandler Reports

Methodist Files Permit for Whitehaven ER Renovation

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare took a big step toward the planned renovation of its Methodist South Hospital emergency room.

Methodist recently filed a $5.4 million building permit through the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement for the work.

While the Whitehaven Methodist facility is a relatively small hospital with only 156 beds, the emergency department is the third-busiest in Memphis.

With over 60,000 annual visits – dramatically increased from 2006 figures of 25,000 visits – the health care provider is having to make sizable changes to fill its role as a primary care facility for a community that has limited access to this type of care.

When completed in late 2016, the project will completely revamp the look and efficiency of the emergency department. The 9,950-square-foot department will grow to 22,750 square feet.

The total project will cost $8.7 million.

– Amos Maki

Crosstown Concourse Taps Retail Leasing Agent

Crosstown Concourse has added another member to its growing team: The Shopping Center Group LLC will be the exclusive retail leasing agent for the massive project.

Crosstown Concourse will feature more than 65,000 square feet of retail space on its ground level.

Shawn Massey, a partner with Shopping Center Group, will work with the Crosstown Concourse development team “to explore new and unexpected retail possibilities,” according to a statement announcing the partnership. The Kitchen Next Door, a restaurant concept headed by entrepreneur and environmentalist Kimbal Musk, is the first confirmed retail tenant in the building.

"We are excited to be working with Shawn and The Shopping Center Group,” said project co-leader McLean Wilson in the statement. “They know that Crosstown Concourse is a unique, mixed-use development unlike any other commercial real estate project in the city and they have embraced the challenge of building a vertical village with us.”

Massey is a 29-year veteran of the local commercial real estate business.

Crosstown Concourse already confirmed its office and apartment teams.

Memphis-based LEDIC Management Group will lease and manage the project’s 270 apartments. And Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors will handle office leasing and management.

The 1.1 million-square-foot Crosstown Concourse currently is under construction on Cleveland Avenue in Midtown Memphis.

– Jane A. Donahoe

Civil Rights Museum Names Freedom Awards Recipients

Ava DuVernay, the director of the movie “Selma,” Freedom Rider Joan Trumpauer Mulholland and Ruby Bridges-Hall, who as a 6-year-old integrated schools in New Orleans, are the recipients of the 2015 National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Awards.

Museum president Terri Lee Freeman announced the award recipients Thursday, Aug. 6.

They will be honored Oct. 22 at a public forum as well as an award ceremony and gala dinner.

The selection of Duvernay, Mulholland and Bridges-Hall marks the first time in the 24-year history of the awards that three women have been selected.

– Bill Dries

Start Co. to Host Delta Pitch Competition

The Delta Entrepreneurship Network is seeking its second round of fellows to join the inaugural class of DEN fellows through six Delta Challenge pitch competitions across the region this fall.

Delta Regional Authority Federal co-chairman Chris Masingill announced the six Delta Challenge pitch competitions today to be held throughout the eight-state Delta region, with the first kicking off in Memphis Sept. 18, hosted by Start Co.

Over the course of the six competitions, up to 20 entrepreneurs and 16 entrepreneurship support organizations will be identified. Those entrepreneurs and organizations will get a fellowship for technical assistance and training to enhance capacity and opportunities in the Delta region.

– Andy Meek

TCAP School-Level Scores Released

State education officials released achievement test scores Monday, Aug. 3, for individual public schools across the state.

With the announcement of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program – or TCAP – scores, 35 Shelby County Schools achieved “Reward” status.

The status is for the top 5 percent of schools in the state for progress or performance.

Meanwhile, City University Boys Preparatory School and Springdale Elementary each earned their way off the state’s “Priority” schools list, which includes the bottom 5 percent statewide in terms of student achievement and growth.

Tennessee education officials also recognized Holmes Road Elementary and Treadwell Elementary for improved scores, but those schools remained just short of the necessary growth to come off the Priority list.

– Bill Dries

ServiceMaster Grows Net Income, Revenue

ServiceMaster Global Holdings Inc. reported second-quarter net income of $67 million Tuesday, Aug. 4, as compared to $40 million from the same quarter in 2014.

The Memphis-based home and commercial services company’s unaudited second-quarter results also included revenue of $716 million, up 5 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago.

ServiceMaster’s American Home Shield division, which sells home warranties, posted 8 percent revenue growth for the quarter compared to a year ago.

American Home Shield’s growth in home warranties – at 7 percent for a retention rate of 75.2 percent – was mostly from its 2014 acquisition of Home Security of America.

Its marketing spend increased by $5 million from a year ago, which was offset by the gain from the sale of investments in the same quarter.

Second-quarter revenue for Terminix, ServiceMaster’s pest-control division, was $395 million, a 5 percent increase from $376 million in second quarter 2014.

Terminix showed a 1.2 percent loss in pest control customers compared with a 0.6 percent loss a year ago, for a second-quarter retention rate of 79.3 percent. For termite and other services, it had an 85.4 percent retention rate and saw a 1.9 percent reduction in those services compared with a 2.8 percent loss a year ago.

Better sales of new services and price increases at Terminix were offset by lower demand for the company’s traditional termite services.

The third division of ServiceMaster, the Franchise Services Group, posted a 6 percent drop in revenue for the second quarter from the same time last year. The division earned $60 million in quarterly revenue, compared with $64 million in second quarter 2014.

The second quarter also included a conversion of ServiceMaster’s Merry Maids home cleaning business to franchises.

– Bill Dries

Lenox Park Courtyard Sells for $8.1 Million

The Lenox Park Courtyard by Marriott, at 3076 Kirby Parkway in East Memphis, has sold for $8.1 million.

OM Capital Memphis LLC, of Fort Myers, Fla., purchased the 96-room hotel from Batra Hospitality Group Inc., according to a special warranty deed filed July 31.

Built in 1998, the 51,804-square-foot, three-story hotel sits on 2.6 acres at the southeast corner of Kirby Parkway and Mount Moriah Road Extended near the Lenox Park office complex. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2015 appraisal is $2.4 million.

Batra Hospitality Group Inc. bought the hotel in May 2013 for $4.2 million.

Rialto Mortgage Finance LLC of New York City issued a $6.3 million loan at the time of sale.

– Wendy Greenlaw, Chandler Reports

It’s Getting Closer: Grizzlies Release Preseason Schedule

The Memphis Grizzlies have announced their 2015 preseason schedule, including exhibition contests against three of the four teams that advanced to last season’s conference finals. The Grizzlies will play seven preseason games.

Memphis will tip-off preseason action at home against the Houston Rockets Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. The Grizzlies will host three additional preseason games against Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli Basketball Super League (Thursday, Oct. 8), the Oklahoma City Thunder (Friday, Oct. 16) and the Minnesota Timberwolves (Sunday, Oct. 18).

The Grizzlies also will travel to point guard Mike Conley’s alma mater in Columbus, Ohio, to play the Cleveland Cavaliers (Monday, Oct. 12) at Value City Arena at The Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of The Ohio State University.

They also have road preseason contests against the Atlanta Hawks (Wednesday, Oct. 21) and Orlando Magic (Friday, Oct. 23).

Single game tickets for all Grizzlies preseason and regular season home games will go on sale at a later date to be announced. Tickets will be available by calling 800-4NBA-TIX, at all Ticketmaster locations,, the FedExForum box office or

– Don Wade

Arlington Travel Center Sells for $3 Million

The Arlington Travel Center, located at 4935 Airline Road directly off I-40, has sold for $3 million, according to a warranty deed filed July 29.

Bloomingair LLC, a Tennessee limited liability company, purchased the high-volume center from CBascom Family LLC, which built the property in 2004.

The facility currently houses a Taco Bell drive-thru restaurant and an Exxon gas station with convenience store.

A $2.5 million loan through Orion Federal Credit Union was filed at the time of sale. The five-year loan matures on Aug. 1, 2020.

The property is valued at $1.1 million, according to the Shelby County Assessor of Property.

– Wendy Greenlaw, Chandler Reports

Start Co., ZeroTo510 Win $50,000 SBA Awards

The Memphis-based startup accelerator Start Co. and Memphis medical device accelerator ZeroTo510 both won $50,000 awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Growth Accelerator Fund.

The 80 winners were announced Tuesday, Aug. 4, at the first-ever White House Demo Day.

After allocating $2.5 million in awards in 2014, this year’s competition is awarding $4 million to accelerators to continue building the support structure needed to help startups become commercially viable and quickly create jobs.

Winners were selected by a panel of more than 40 judges who are experts with entrepreneurial, investment, startup, economic development, capital formation and academic backgrounds from both the public and private sector.

– Andy Meek

Joe Cooper Denied Spot on Memphis Election Ballot

Memphis City Council contender Joe Cooper will not be on the October Memphis election ballot.

Shelby County Chancellor Jim Kyle ruled Thursday, Aug. 6, that Cooper’s request to be allowed on the ballot was not valid because Cooper didn’t gather the required 25 voter signatures by the July 16 deadline.

Cooper also did not have his citizenship rights restored from a 2007 federal money laundering conviction. He claimed election officials told him he couldn’t circulate the petition because his rights had not been restored.

Kyle ruled that Cooper was told that in error. But he said that Cooper waited about a month before seeking to have his citizenship rights restored in Circuit Court.

By the time Cooper had his rights restored, the candidate filing deadline had passed and the election commission had certified the ballot without him in the Super District 9 Position 2 race.

Kyle halted the election commission from doing any further work on the ballot pending Thursday’s hearing. He lifted the stay after denying Cooper’s claim.

Cooper said later that he would drop the larger lawsuit on the issue as well.

“The moral is get 50 signatures any time you run for office,” Cooper said. “It just didn’t fall my way. That’s life.”

– Bill Dries

Arlington Office Buildings Sell for $1.2 Million

Meridian Properties LLC, a Tennessee limited liability company, has purchased the office buildings located at 11870 Cranston Drive and 11880 Cranston Drive in Arlington.

The two 4,500-square-foot buildings are located just off of Airline Road north of Hayes Road.

Cranston Office Partners of Arlington purchased the land and built the mixed-use office space in 2008.

The Shelby County Assessor of Property lists a tax appraisal value of $488,400.

– Wendy Greenlaw, Chandler Reports

Fred’s Total Sales Up 11 Percent in July

Sales at Memphis-based Fred’s Inc. were up 11 percent for July, the retailer said Thursday, Aug. 6.

Total sales rose from $148.9 million in July 2014 to $164.7 million last month. Fred’s total sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2015 also were up 11 percent, to $545.2 million from $491.2 million for the same period last year.

In a statement about the results, Fred’s CEO Jerry Shore said the July numbers reflected a “solid contribution” from Fred’s recently expanded specialty pharmacy business, which comprised about 12 percent of total sales for July.

– Andy Meek

Crosstown Art Exhibit to Spotlight Justice Issues

Just City is seeking submissions for #SeeJustice, an art exhibition to be held Sept. 25-26 at Co-Motion Studio in the Crosstown neighborhood.

The two-day, multimedia art exhibition will include visual and performance art.

Goals for the exhibit are to spotlight social justice issues relevant in Memphis to a wider audience in artistic fashion. Key exhibit themes are indigent defense, criminal justice reform, social justice, marginalized voices and teen voices.

The exhibition is open to all students as well as amateur and professional artists. Visual art (including photography), short film, dance, spoken word and music will be considered. The deadline to submit art is Monday, Aug. 10, and those selected will be notified by Aug. 24. Selected artists will be paid a stipend for their contribution.

Artists interested in exhibiting or who have other questions should contact show curator Elle Perry at

Just City was founded earlier this year to advocate for due process issues in the local criminal justice system and to promote solutions to the issues of mass incarceration outside the criminal justice system.

– Don Wade

New Magazine to ‘Focus’ on LGBT Issues

Cooper-Young-based design agency Ray Rico Freelance is preparing to roll out Focus Magazine, a centralized place, online and in print, for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender news and information, and product and service advertising.

The inaugural edition, named “The Coming Out Issue,” will hit stands Sept. 1.

Ray Rico Freelance will collaborate with individuals and LGBT-focused groups, such as Friends For Life, the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, Tennessee Equality Project and Mid-South Pride, who will have active roles as contributors. The 32-page print publication will be published every other month, while the online version will be uploaded frequently, Rico said.

– Daily News staff

Pink Palace Museum Store Reopens

Memphis Pink Palace Museum patrons now have two places to shop – including the newly renovated Museum Store, which reopened Friday, July 31.

Pink Palace, located at 3050 Poplar Ave., decided to keep the Little Museum Store it opened while the larger store was undergoing renovations. The museum’s stores sell a wide range of items, including T-shirts, dinosaur figurines, science experiments, jewelry, space gadgets and more.

Besides permanent and traveling exhibits, the Pink Palace houses the CTI 3D Giant Theater and Sharpe Planetarium.

The theater reopened in March 2014 following an extensive renovation, while the planetarium is currently closed for its own multimillion-dollar overhaul.

The planetarium was expected to reopen in June, but that date was delayed following a March 18 fire that broke out as welding crews worked inside. The fire forced the evacuation of 60 employees and 300 to 400 visitors. No one was injured.

– Daily News staff

Summer Jobs Programs Mark End of Season

With the school year about to begin, two summer jobs and job-training programs marked the end of their work for the summer.

The Earn and Learn Summer Youth Experience of the Workforce Investment Network graduated 19 teenagers and young adults, ages 16-21, Thursday, July 30. The graduates earned information technology certification while making about $13 an hour for eight weeks.

The program is a partnership among WIN and CompTia and Shelby County Schools.

Also, the city’s MPLOY Youth Summer Experience ended Friday, July 31, with final paychecks being handed out to 1,000 teenagers and young adults ages 14-21 who worked internships and entry-level jobs at 60 local companies for six weeks.

MPLOY included job training and workshops on life skills in addition to the work experience.

– Bill Dries

First Tennessee to Match Military Family Donations

First Tennessee Foundation is matching up to $15,000 in donations to benefit the families of five U.S. service members killed in an attack on a military operations center in Chattanooga.

Four Marines and one sailor died in the July 16 attack.

Donations to the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga brought to any First Tennessee Bank branch throughout Tennessee by Aug. 14 will be eligible for the match.

Bank employees will accept checks or cash contributions to be deposited in a dedicated account.

First Tennessee established the First Tennessee Foundation in 1993 to invest in the communities the bank serves. Last year, in honor of First Tennessee’s 150th anniversary, the foundation gave away $5,000 a day for 150 days to nonprofits selected by 1.5 million online votes.

– Daily News staff