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Abridged Daily News Columnists

I have been researching a story, doing interviews and all that good stuff most of the day. But I’ve holed up in a coffee shop to bring you Abridged Daily News Columnists!

Ronnie Polaneczky: I actually said “good idea!” when I saw Polaneczky had written about selling her gold and getting cash. Selling gold has exploded in popularity (or at least Google popularity) since 2006 and the local news has noticed. But is Polaneczky the only columnist who has actually sold her own gold? Right: Who cares!

The column is standard stuff with a cute anecdote at the end. It’s a nice touch, though, that one of the places she goes to sell her old jewelry is a gold dealer who set up at Hampton Inn in Bensalem. Right across from the Woodhaven Mall!

Stu Bykofsky: Do I have a rule that I don’t abridge stories about bureaucratic tussles in animal control? I do now, but I’d really encourage you to study the lead carefully:

WITH PACCA in its grave and PSPCA decapitated, local animal-lovers fear that innocent animals will pay with their lives for the uncivil war between the agencies that has raged for some 18 months.

Were all of the animals really innocent? Are we to assume none of these dogs assaulted people, stole bones or sold drugs on the side?

I get that Bykofsky really cares about animals, and I’m sure he’s heartbroken. I know he’s also hoping to paint the animals as sympathetically as possible. I really don’t think we need innocent to modify animals there, though. Of course they’re innocent! They’re animals! I know: Whatever. But I think it’s detrimental to the column. It’s not that it’s bad writing; columns are most convincing when the writer is clear and clean and makes solid points. Let the story carry the column! I dream of a world where no one in the media uses the phrase “innocent animals.”

Or maybe stuff like that resonates. And Bykofsky has won a lot of awards for writing about animals. I dunno.

John Baer: Baer interviews Allyson Schwartz, who says she will maybe run for Arlen Specter’s U.S. Senate seat. Baer thinks otherwise. Hm. Analysis, opinion, and the worst modifier I can find is “tough statewide run.” Excellent.

Michael Smerconish: Hmm. Smerconish is praising CNBC’s Rick Santelli for complaining about “losers’ mortgages” and yelling, “President Obama, are you listening?” on air. Sigh. I’m probably wrong. Going shamelessly over-the-top works. Anyway, the American populace is suddenly concerned about rich people stealing their money. Eh.

The Daily News Shows Us How You Finish A Story Properly

The Daily News lets us know today about wrestler Michael Taris, who allegedly intentionally fell at a 7-Eleven in hopes of collecting damages.

After the story was turned in, an editor walked out to the newsroom and told writer William Bender he needs just one more sentence to fill the space. “Write to the line!” the editor bellowed. “And make it quick!”

I know this because that’s the only way one could possibly come to this stellar last paragraph:

Taris, who formerly wrestled for the World Wide Wrestling Alliance, now wrestles for the National Wrestling Superstars, authorities said. He also worked for Premier Escort Services as a male dancer and as a massage therapist for Massage for Men (M4M), where he went by the name “Sean.”

Now that’s the kind of article closer you could only get in the Daily News. (The Bucks County Courier Times article, you see, added one more sentence after the massage revelation: “National Wrestling Superstars promotes more than 50 family-style wrestling events throughout the year in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware, according to the organization’s Web site.” I think family-friendly wrestling is the less honorable profession here.)

Attorney general/Internet perv detector Tom Corbett has a release on his site about it if you really need more info. And, hey, how the hell did Pennsylvania manage to get attorneygeneral.gov, anyway?

Wrestler ‘falls’ on hard times, arrested [DN]

Bankruptcy, Tierney And ‘Business As Usual’

022409richuncletierneybags.jpg Bankruptcy in the real world isn’t like Monopoly. In the real world, filing Chapter 11 is a way to protect a company from its creditors while reorganizing. In Monopoly, on the other hand, nobody ever reaches bankruptcy because people quit playing when they realize it’s three hours in and nobody has even built any houses yet. Sometimes it’s nice to imagine a world like Monopoly.

Ahem. By now you know the story: The owners of the Inquirer and Daily News have filed for bankruptcy. Since then, there’s been a ton of hilarious news: We learned Tierney gave himself a 42 percent raise in December, then he and two other executives who got raises — including professional sports car driver Mark Frisbygave them back.

But there’s more! Yesterday the newspapers’ owners had their day in court. Ownership rarely, if ever, remains the same when a company files for bankruptcy, but the papers’ owners want to remain in charge, their lawyers said yesterday. Here’s the juicy details:

But lawyers for the investors who hold $297 million in debt said they were stunned that Brian P. Tierney, chief executive of the papers, had turned away from a $20 million lifeline from current lenders in favor of a loan that would protect his job, according to a court filing and testimony at yesterday’s opening hearing in Philadelphia.

Instead, Tierney and his backers lined up a $25 million loan - known as debtor-in-possession financing - from a different group that included Philadelphia Newspapers chairman Bruce Toll. It includes a provision that would put the loan in default if Tierney left the company.

There’s reason to believe this isn’t just ownership trying to save face. Obviously, Tierney doesn’t want to lose his job. But it is true that any new owners would possibly (probably? likely?) shutter the Daily News and maybe void union contracts; creditors have been pushing the papers’ owners to do this for months now. “They wanted me to stay and offered me a handsome compensation plan and a piece of the company, both verbally and in writing,” Tierney said in a statement.

Andrew Kassner, an agent for Citizens Bank, says the creditors are not looking to simply dismantle the papers and run things with a skeleton crew. He also notes, though, the company is worth less than its debt and criticized the papers for poor management.

“Most companies would have hired a crisis manager,” Kassner said. “To this company, it was business as usual.” To be fair, newspapers have been in crisis since about 1998 or so.

Kassner made it pretty clear that the creditors want Tierney out; he also attempted to sound like there wouldn’t be massive cuts if there were a bankruptcy restructuring. Tierney said afterward that “[o]nce we told them that we weren’t interested in working for them to, in effect, damage the company we love, they had a change of heart.”

So, yes, it was just a big spin session for everyone during yesterday’s hearing. The next one’s on March 9.

Abridged Daily News Columnists

Ronnie Polaneczky: Ms. Polaneczky got a letter from an incarcerated woman who says her son got a pistol from an older friend. (There’s more, but that’s the gist of it.) This column is her attempt to help the kid. All well and good.

Here’s what I don’t really get, though. After being “so floor[ed]” by the letter, she writes:

I search the woman’s criminal record and learn that she’s doing time for assault, theft, forgery and other charges. So it seems that, before the “system” failed her son, she herself did, by blowing her chance to continue parenting him.

This might sound weird: Is this really necessary? The extra information about the woman’s background is fine. But because the woman writes that “this situation shows who the system fails,” Polaneczky needs to note that she, for one, thinks the letter writer should have stayed out of jail for her son. Agreed. I don’t think anybody in America suggests that parents should immediately go out and get incarcerated upon the birth of a child.

But it’s just an aside. The column isn’t an admonition of parents who commit crimes instead of committing to their children. (Oh, that previous one was an 8.6!) I read a lot of newspaper columns, and there are a decent amount of writers who insert in these little asides in every column. That sometimes works for humor, but for serious news columns it’s almost always distracting. This isn’t a particularly egregious example, but I think that is the case here.

I’ll grant there’s a chance that, if Polaneczky hadn’t put in this line, Daily News readers would flood the lines with calls about how she let this letter writer off the hook. Actually, that sounds probable. Hmm.

Elmer Smith: Now that the state might legalize video poker machines in bars, we might be on the slippery slope to table games in casinos! Smith isn’t happy about this. Fair enough, I don’t think he’s a big fan of gambling (or at least our current corporate-controlled form of gambling in casinos here in Pennsylvania). But, actually, adding table games to casinos is a great idea.

I guess the idea is that a person can lose a lot of money in a single gamble at a table. But current slot machines offer the ability to string consecutive plays together with virtually no time wasted; a person can lose a lot of money playing the slots. Slot machines make up around 70-75 percent of a casino’s profits. Slot odds are stacked completely in the casino’s favor. The house always wins, but the house always wins at slots.

Yes, part of the reason slot machines make more money for owners is they’re cheaper to run; table games require dealers and pit bosses and more floor space. As such, there are more slot machines. But slots aren’t glamorous or fun, and the people who play them tend to spend their entertainment dollars on casino trips only on slot machines.

Table games attract customers who spend money outside the casino. Their entertainment dollars are going to things other than gambling. They can spur new construction (say, in a new hotel a casino builds in an attempt to woo these customers). From everything I’ve read and know about casinos, I think adding table games to Pennsylvania’s casinos would improve things on the whole. Adding table games to the casinos already in Pennsylvania is certainly a better idea that video poker terminals in a bunch of bars.

Dave Davies: This is getting long. Let’s just do a pullquote:

Most of my bright and informed friends who read the New York Times and listen to public radio could name the top strategists of the presidential campaigns last year, and can rattle off several Cabinet members today.

But they can’t name three members of Philadelphia City Council or their own state senator.

It took me a while to remember that Larry Farnese is my state senator. I can name all the City Council members, though. I think.

Here’s a trick if you need to just name three: Pick former mayors! There’s a good chance a son with the same name is in City Council.

Abridged Daily News Columnists

Ronnie Polaneczky: Here’s the charming story of a man who wants to trade an old Charlie Manuel (a lifetime .198 hitter) baseball card for an opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a Phillies game, essentially. What a heartwarming story!

Michael Smerconish: It’s 2009, which means everyone is a (pardon the term) citizen economist.

Fun With Daily News Photos

Hey, let’s take a look at the Daily News today. Let’s see, there’s this story about the trial of the guy who allegedly assaulted a Geno’s employee

Hey, wait a sec. Can we just focus on that photo?

Ahh, excellent. First middle finger in the Daily News since that Gray’s Ferry protest photo back in the late 90s? My records of “bird flips in Daily News” are spotty at best, so I don’t know. Whoever’s giving the middle finger in this photo, though, I salute you.

Abridged Daily News Columnists

Jhn Baer: Pennsylvania’s legislature has more staffers than anywhere else in country. Woo-hoo, we’re number one!

Jill Porter: “But my math is simple: The more guns in circulation, the more that find their way to the dregs of society who casually assassinate cops.” You going to look that up, Ms. Porter, or maybe cite something, or… no, you’re just going to go with your gut and not bother to find out if it’s true or not? Okay, fine, but it might be nice to have some facts to back up your opinion and… oh, nevermind.

More importantly: How the hell is that math?!

Today In Typos

Reader Chris sends in this awesome screenshot, from today’s Daily News. And, yeah, I’d say it matters a decent amount:

021709poopmatters.png

This is oddly prescient considering Morrissey is shit.

New indie releases feature Morrissey, M. Ward & more [Daily News/PopMatters.com]

Abridged Daily News Columnists

Ronnie Polaneczky: It’s a profile of a man with this part-time job: Making t-shirts in memory of police officers killed in the line of duty. Oof, not the most fun thing in the world.

Elmer Smith: And here’s another column about the police officer who died late last week. The kid was only 25 and had a pregnant wife; very sad.

Fatimah Ali: And, hey, a domestic violence column! Boy, it’s a trifecta of fun today. Fatimah Ali doesn’t even really write anything hilarious today, even, though she does plug her own forthcoming memoir and mention a book called, “How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved.”

Abridged Daily News Columnists

Stu Bykofsky: Like everything else in Philadelphia, the collection of money from tickets from red light cameras — coming to City Hall soon! — is done incompetently.

(Be sure to read the comments on this one, which currently mention the lack of cleanliness in the city, and suspended Phillies pitcher J.C. Romero.)

John Baer: Arlen Specter hired Joe Torsella’s wife, and Torsella hired Specter’s wife. (This is just like how Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy, etc.) And now they’re going to run against each other for a Senate seat! John Baer thinks this will lead to a kinder, gentler campaign, which it will — until the parties realize a Senate seat is on the line and they break out the attack ads.

Deborah Leavy: Oh, man, the honeymoon is over for Barack Obama! As it should be, he’s been president for almost a month. But, yes, everyone is super annoying and partisan and oh, no, the world is going to end.