The circumstances surrounding Bashinsky's death remain a mystery. But Sloan Bashinsky, Major's older brother, is using a blog called goodmorningfloridakeys.com to shine light on a case that has drawn national attention to Birmingham.
As we reported in a post yesterday, Sloan Bashinsky says a private source told him that Major was shot in the head at the golf course where his body was found. Sloan also writes that his brother was bisexual and wonders if that played a role in his disappearance and death.
Sloan Bashinsky, a lawyer who lives in Key West, Florida, is using his blog to address a number of issues surrounding his brother's death:
The role of the FBI
In a post dated March 14, Sloan Bashinsky writes that Major's wife, Leslie, had stated publicly that the FBI had met with her husband before his disappearance. Addressing a conversation he'd had with a man from Birmingham, Sloan writes:
I told the fellow from Birmingham that I had heard Major’s wife had publicly stated the FBI was talking with Major before his disappearance. Before that, I had heard maybe Major had done something illegal, but held back saying it was taking commissions on investments he had made for his law clients, which he could not do unless he was a licensed and registered securities dealer.
Sloan also writes that he wonders about the FBI's motives in the case:
I said the FBI had yet to contact me. And, as far as I knew, the FBI had yet to contact Major’s and my sister, and Major’s first wife. I said seemed really weird to me, because one would think the FBI would go straight to people who might know Major best, to get a fuller picture of him. The fellow from Birmingham agreed. In that instant came the first insight, and I said the FBI knows something that has caused it not to feel it needs to speak with people who know major. Much the same thing had been suggested yesterday morning by an old friend I called in Birmingham to see if there had been any new developments, but it went over my head when he said it.
A Coverup in Birmingham?
The Birmingham News has become known in recent years as a mouthpiece for the corporate and political elites who run Alabama. The newspaper often slants its coverage to avoid anything that might upset the state's conservative power structure. So it is interesting to learn the following from Sloan Bashinsky, in a post dated March 11. Sloan says a reporter from the News had contacted him two days earlier, in the midst of Major's disappearance:
He conducted a lengthy interview by telephone, which led to him writing an article, which was to run in yesterday’s edition, but was held by higher-ups at the News. The article was about my brother and my father’s company, and included my thoughts about both situations.
This is the biggest story in Birmingham at the moment, involving one of Alabama's best-known business families. Why did the newspaper cut the story with Sloan Bashinsky's thoughts about his brother's disappearance?
Could Major Bashinsky have arranged his own death?
Sloan, noting that his brother was deeply conscious of his image, says the answer is yes:
Major was a deeply conflicted man. It started when he nearly died of double pneumonia at age 6 months. All hope was lost, until a new drug, penicillin, was tried, and it saved him. Make no mistake, that dark hole into which Major plunged in infancy shaped and drove him for the rest of his life.
As did his being bisexual, which caused him a great deal of internal stress when he lived in Birmingham and tried to hide it.
Maintaining appearances was important to Major, Sloan writes:
Plenty of people will extol Major’s virtues. The keeper of the family skeletons. I have to rattle them sometimes.
Major was perfectly capable, if he faced massive public mortification, of hiring someone do him in and make it look like someone at my father’s company did it.
What about the letter critical of the family and its company, Golden Enterprises?
In a post dated March 11, Sloan says the author of the letter has an insider's knowledge:
Whoever wrote the letter knew exactly what is going in the company. Whoever wrote the letter knew how to write and how get the point across in few memorable words. Whoever wrote it expressed my own sentiments to a T, and made me wish I had written it myself. Nearly one-half of the dividends, maybe around 47 percent, I read in the Birmingham News, are going to the SYB family trust set up by my father around 1980, to save estate taxes. During her life, all income from that trust goes to my father’s widow, Joann. Around $650,000 a year, according to the Birmingham New article. Dividends also go to the employee profit-sharing trust, which owns a good bit of the company stock. Dividends go to management and former management employees, who own a good bit of the company stock. The rest of the dividends go to independent investors. Joann is well-fixed through other inheritances from my father.
Then, in a post dated March 17, Sloan publishes the full content of the letter:
Greedy and Harmful Dividends paid to the Bashinskys and the other owners force us to act with urgency to render justice for your terrible business decisions that favor our company’s owners over our loyal workers.
Stop your Dividend payments today. Our company’s cash must be saved from this stupid policy. Vampires kill by sucking people dry of their blood. The Owners and Managers must stop sucking the cash out of our company during these very difficult times.
STD - STD - Stop The Dividends - STD - STD
The blog notes that the spelling and punctuation in the letter are correct, seemingly the work of an educated individual.
Sloan writes that Golden Enterprises finances have seen better days:
The company lost money three out of the last four years. It has $710,000 in cash. It recently went $8,000,000 in debt, to replace worn-out cars and trucks, and an obsolete computer operating system — very needed expenditures, I was told by one of my company “spies.” The spy said the company historically has avoided debt, except to cover short-term situations. This $8,000,000 debt is not short-term, and it will really stretch the company to repay it, and continue paying out dividends. An investment banker friend, with whom I attended college a million years ago, said yesterday that the $8,000,000 could be repaid by cutting out the dividend. If the SYB family trust, which Joann controls, declined to accept dividends from the company, the savings could be used to repay the $8,000,000, without affecting another other stockholders, especially the employee profit-sharing trust.