December 31, 2008

Reuters weighs in on supposed 'bailout' for Bristol Press

Reuters put out an analysis piece tonight that prominently features The Bristol Press and the supposed effort to bail us out (though, of course, that's not what it is). But it never hurts to get the paper's plight more publicity so I'm happy to see this one, particularly since it's now featured on the front of The Huffington Post.
NB Politicus has a discussion of the Reuters piece that's worth noting.
And T.J. Sullivan in LA, another blog, says the L.A. Times and Rocky Mountain News should pay attention to our tiny daily in Bristol.
Update on New Year's Day, 9:15 a.m.: As bloggers wake up this morning, they're beginning to weigh in across the land in thunderous denunciations of any bailout for the pro-Obama press. There doesn't seem to be any way to show them that there is no bailout in the works and that nobody really wants one.
But it is another wave of publicity for our beleagured little pro-Bristol paper, and there's always a chance that it might somehow help preserve us, so I'm not too concerned that the factual basis of all the ranting is simply wrong.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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Looking ahead to an uncertain 2009

The colored Christmas lights on our bushes are casting all sorts of interesting shades across the snowy front yard. The beauty makes it easy to forget the frigid wind, especially when we're inside where it's warm and cozy.
It's a nice end to 2008, a year of miracles.
For us at least, that cold breeze outside is perhaps the appropriate way to begin 2009, where uncertainty already reigns. But I'm counting on the joy of those lights to prove even more symbolic as the year rolls along. Hope is always a good thing.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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City forms new energy task force

A new energy task force aims to find ways for the city to save money and reduce its reliance on power sources that contribute to global warming.

The panel, slated to meet for the first time next month, will analyze the city’s “different energy expenditures” and seek ways to cut back where possible, said city Councilor Craig Minor, who pushed for its creation.

The chairman of the panel, city Councilor Mike Rimcoski, said Tuesday that he’s still “waiting to see what we can do.”

Minor said he hopes that by taking a citywide look at energy, the panel may be able to find new sources of power, including solar panels and other methods that don’t contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

The council approved the concept of creating the committee last summer at Minor’s urging.

It said the new task force should include “citizens from a wide range of viewpoints, including the business sector and municipal land use boards.
It was told by councilors to look into suggested steps as part of the U.S. Mayors’l Climate Protection Agreement to see which might be adopted by Bristol successfully.

Minor said “a lot of other towns” have found alternative energy sources that have helped them cut down on their use of electricity and petroleum products that add to global warming.

Since “global warming is the sum of all the smaller individual sources of greenhouse gases,” Minor said, Bristol’s success in scaling back its emissions will help the overall effort to prevent catastrophic climate change in the decades ahead.

In addition to Rimcoski, city Councilors Cliff Block and Ken Cockayne are going to serve on the panel.

Minor said he didn’t mind being left off.

“I have enough to do,” Minor said, adding that there are many qualified people in the community who can contribute more than he can.

“We have some real talent in Bristol,” Minor said, pointing to attorney Jennifer Janelle as one example of someone with genuine expertise who should have a role.

Minor said he hopes that residents such as Janelle, who already serves on the Bristol Downtown Development Corp., will have the opportunity to lend a hand.

The resolution passed by the council said there is “no longer any debate in the scientific community that climate disruption is a reality and that human activities are largely responsible for increasing concentrations of global warming pollution.”

It also said that “because the skyrocketing cost of fuel” the city has “no choice but to look for alternatives to spending more and more money for less and less energy.”

The creation of this Task Force should not be taken to mean that the City Council believes that any of the City’s major cost centers – the Public Works Department, the Board of Education, and the Police and Fire Departments – are fiscally or operationally mismanaged,” the council motion said.

“On the contrary, the council believes that all of these cost centers have been creative in finding ways to manage in difficult financial times.  However, the impact of global warming and the fiscal situation facing Bristol and other cities around the country force us to take action to reduce both energy spending and the production of global warming pollutants,” it continued. 

The new task force is supposed to consider a fairly wide-ranging agenda that includes reviewing patterns of land use and community development to see if their regulations or practices that are not sustainable.

A report is supposed to be made to the council and funding for the effort is to come from the Board of Finance.

Here's an outline of the issue, provided by Minor:

Mayor's Task Force on Energy Consumption


(Voted to establish on July 8, 2008 by the Bristol City Council)


On July 8, 2008, following up on its May 13, 2008 endorsement of the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, the Bristol City Council voted to direct Mayor Arthur Ward to establish the Mayor's Task Force on Energy Consumption. The motion was as follows:

On motion of Council Member Minor and seconded, it was unanimously voted: To establish the Mayor's Task Force on Energy Consumption to consist of citizens from a wide range of viewpoints, including the business sector and municipal land use boards, and with legal or technical expertise in energy consumption. The Task Force will review the entire list of suggested actions contained in the Climate Protection Agreement, and any others as they may see fit, and identify those actions which the Task Force determines to have the best potential to reduce the cost of energy spending by the City, and reduce the amount of global warming pollution produced by the City.

The purpose of the Task Force is to find ways for the City to reduce energy spending and global warming pollution without impacting the City's ability to provide essential services and a high quality of life to Bristol residents.

The City Council directed the creation of this Task Force for two reasons:

1. Because there is no longer any debate in the scientific community that climate disruption is a reality and that human activities are largely responsible for increasing concentrations of global warming pollution, and

2. Because the sky-rocketing cost of fuel leaves the City with no choice but to look for alternatives to spending more and more money for less and less energy.

The creation of this Task Force should not be taken to mean that the City Council believes that any of the City’s major cost centers – the Public Works Department, the Board of Education, and the Police and Fire Departments – are fiscally or operationally mismanaged. On the contrary, the Council believes that all of these cost centers have been creative in finding ways to manage in difficult financial times. However, the impact of global warming and the fiscal situation facing Bristol and other cities around the country force us to take action to reduce both energy spending and the production of global warming pollutants.

Mission Statement

To review the suggested actions contained in the “U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement” and other actions with the goal of identifying steps which the City might take to reduce both energy spending and global warming pollution.

Responsibilities and Tasks

The Task Force is charged with reviewing the suggested actions contained in the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, and any others as they may see fit, and identifying what steps the City can take to better manage this situation. The Task Force shall prepare a Final Report containing its recommendations. 

In preparing its Final Report, the Task Force shall be responsible for all of the steps listed below, and any other related tasks that might later be added by the City Council:

        1. Review the suggested actions contained in the “U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement” and other actions with the goal of identifying steps which the City might take to reduce both energy spending and global warming pollution.

        2. Review, document and evaluate energy spending and consumption by the City. This includes motor vehicle use, maintenance and construction equipment, heating and air conditioning, street lighting and building lighting. The Task Force shall obtain this information from relevant department heads and other town officials as necessary.

        1. Identify possible methods of renewable energy production by the City and related funding sources. This includes photovoltaic panels, wind power, and fuel cells. The Task Force shall obtain this information from individuals, agencies, organizations, and businesses that are in this field including its own members.

        1. Review current patterns of land use and community development to identify regulations and practices that are not “sustainable”. The Task Force shall consult with town staff as well as conservation organizations and planning agencies.

        1. Determine up to five promising areas of possible spending and consumption reduction and energy production that should be implemented, based on their potential to produce significant results. 

        2. Identify the appropriate department or staff person to be responsible for the implement each of the five recommendations, if approved by the City Council.

        1. Develop a Preliminary Report for submission to the City Council for the Council’s review and comment. 

        2. Upon receipt of the City Council’s comments, revise the Preliminary Report accordingly and submit a Final Report for acceptance by the City Council.


The Task Force shall have up to thirteen voting members, all to be nominated by the Mayor and appointed by the City Council. All appointments shall be for a term not to exceed two years from date of appointment. Composition of the Task Force shall be as follows:

  • One member from the Board of Finance, Public Works Board, Board of Education, Parks and Recreation Commission, and the Planning Commission;

  • Three members with expertise in one or more of the following sectors: renewable energy, construction or development, and conservation/environmental protection; and

  • Five at large members.

The Committee will meet regularly, and elect a chair.

Staffing Assistance

The Comptroller’s Office will provide the Task Force with administrative support and technical assistance as required. Clerical support in the form of a clerk to take meeting minutes shall be provided. The City Council will request funding from the Board of Finance to cover the cost of the above departmental and clerical support.

Compliance with State and Local Laws and Town Policies

The Task Force shall conduct its activities in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and all Bristol laws and regulations.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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To cover mall buy, city may sell its first taxable bonds soon

The city may issue its first-ever taxable bond in early February in order to repay itself for the $7.4 million it has spent so far on the downtown mall.

Comptroller Glenn Klocko said the city typically sells tax-exempt bonds because they are used to pay for civic improvements that fall within the norm of municipalities, such as schools, roads and parks.

But when the city bought the mall for $5.3 million in 2005, it leaped into a commercial enterprise that required different handling than the city’s other ventures.

It has since poured at least another $2.1 million into the property in order to demolish the decrepit building and pay for studies, lawyers and more.

Since the city needs to sell at bonds for at least $15 million worth of civic improvements, as well as the $7.4 million for the mall, it is eyeing a bond or financial note sale in the first week of February in order to take advantage of cheap borrowing rates, Klocko said.

The money taken in from the bonds will be used to replenish various accounts, particularly the $17 million rainy day fund that is full of IOUs at the moment.

Klocko said that bond sales are complex, but this one presents more challenges than others because of the mall.

“It’s not as clear cut as it’s been in the past,” Klocko said, because of the need to sell taxable bonds to recoup the mall money.

The difference to taxpayers is that one-year tax-exempt notes currently earn little more than 1 percent interest. Taxable notes pay more than 3 percent.

That adds up to some real money for taxpayers over the 17 years or so the city is likely to take to pay off the entire mall debt.

Klocko said the city hasn’t decided for sure that it will sell bonds for the debt, as it normally does. It has the option of selling one-year notes that it can roll over annually for as long as a decade.

“It’s a big choice that we’re going to have to talk about,” the comptroller said. “There are a lot of options that are available to us.”

One part of the discussion is how to value the mall itself in the paperwork that accompanies a sale of bonds.

“The problem is we have no idea what that property is going to sell for, if it sells at all,” Klocko said.

The nonprofit Bristol Downtown Development Corp. is overseeing an effort to revitalize the 17-acre mall site, but so far it has no luck in finding a potential developer.

Currently, the city plans to sell between $15 and $18 million in bonds along with the mall bond. But if it buys the land for two new schools during the next few weeks, which is likely, that tab would almost certainly be included in the bond sale as well.

City Attorney Dale Clift said the land purchases should occur soon.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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New York Times again takes notice of the Press's plight

An Editorial Notebook piece in yesterday's New York Times highlights the need for local news in Connecticut and New Jersey, including the value of preserving The Bristol Press.
"New Britain and Bristol have populations of more than 60,000. It’s hard to see what would fill the void when its newspapers die," the piece says.
I would have preferred "if" instead of "when."
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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City just wants its money back from accused vandal

An accused vandal who allegedly painted the pool at Rockwell Park last spring is seeking accelerated rehabilitation that would clear him of any criminal record – and city leaders are willing to go along with the request.
As long as Remy Jorge Castro y Calzada, 19, agrees to pay back the $2,869 it cost the city to repair the damage “it’s fine with us,” said Park Director Ed Swicklas.
“I don’t want to kill the guy’s lifestyle,” Mayor Art Ward said, but he wants the taxpayers to get their money back in return for giving the green light for Castro y Calzada’s request.
“I don’t have a problem as long as I get my money,” Swicklas said.
Castro y Calzada, of 33 Woodard Drive, has been charged with spray painting the drained pool last spring and with defacing $37,000 worth of Boston and Maine Railroad property.
He faces first-degree criminal mischief and third-degree trespassing charges for the April park vandalism along with other charges for “tagging” the railroad property in September.
Castro y Calzada is due in court on the Rockwell Park vandalism on Jan. 30.
Assistant city attorney Jeff Steeg said the city was notified that the accused vandal had sought accelerated rehabilitation. It could object, ignore the notice or request specific action.
“At a minimum, I’m going to ask for damages,” Steeg said.
“Anything less than that” isn’t good enough, the mayor said. “I want restitution.”
But, he said, he doesn’t want a single incident in which nobody suffered physical injury to jeopardize Castro y Calzada’s entire future.
The young man “shouldn’t have done” the spray painting, Ward said, but if he agrees to pay back the city for the damage he caused he can begin to get his life in order.
“I would like to see some community service” included in the accelerated rehabilitation program, too, the mayor said.
A vandalism spree last year, which included the mauling of a Memorial Boulevard statue, had city officials pushing the police to crack down on the culprits.The police haven’t yet made an arrest in the statue vandalism.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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December 30, 2008

Minor is not going to seek reelection

Three-term city Councilor Craig Minor, a Democrat, said today that he won’t seek reelection.
“Six years is long enough. It’s time for new ideas and new blood,” Minor said.
Minor said he notified the Democratic Town Committee recently about his decision to give up his 3rd District seat so it would have plenty of time to recruit and vet a good candidate to take his place.
Minor said that letting people know early on “removes the drama” that so often surrounds political decisions.
“I don’t like drama and I think a lot of politicians do,” Minor said.
Minor, who works as the town planner in Cromwell, said he wants to devote his attention to a few issues he cares deeply about instead of taking on whatever his council duties require.
“This way I can expend my free time on the specific issues that I care about,” Minor said.
The councilor said he’s not ruling out a future political run “but certainly not in the near future.”
Minor said he doesn’t think that telling people of his decision will weaken him politically in the months ahead.
“I’ve always worked well with the other people on the council” on both sides of the aisle, he said, and he’s sure that will continue.
Minor may have faced a primary fight had he opted to stay in the race. Many Democrats were sore at him for lending a hand to an effort to create a chief operating officer position at City Hall that municipal unions opposed and many Republicans favored.
There is no firm word yet on whether any other members of the council plan to step down. It appears likely that Mayor Art Ward will seek a second term in 2009.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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WTIC lays off two popular radio personalities

Colin McEnroe, host of WTIC's afternoon drive-time radio show, is being canned, according to a story in The Hartford Courant and another in the Journal Inquirer.
One of the two morning hosts on the station, Diane Smith, is also getting the hook, the story says, as station execs try to pare costs.
Since McEnroe once had my Tattoo writers on the show for an hour, his loss stings. I can't imagine how axing him could possibly be in the long-term interest of the station.
What we're seeing is a slow collapse of all the old media rapidly becoming a wholesale slaughter, with newspapers perhaps in the worst shape, but radio and television are not that far behind.
And what will replace it all? Rants on the internet? I shudder at the future unfolding each day, where there's a world of information available in seconds but no way to find out what's happening.
I hope that WTIC will reconsider its plans.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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JI, Record Journal among potential buyers, editor says

In this story in Editor & Publisher today, the executive editor of The Bristol Press and New Britain Herald talks a bit more about what's going on in the search for a buyer for both threatened dailies.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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Nicastro on the radio

Listen here to state Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democrat, talking with WTIC's morning show yesterday about the effort to save The Bristol Press.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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December 29, 2008

State officials optimistic as half a dozen prospects emerge to buy threatened newspapers

Both of these stories were written with reporter Jackie Majerus:

There are at least six potential buyers eyeing The Bristol Press, The Herald of New Britain and 11 weeklies, according to state and municipal officials who met Monday to discuss the looming closure of the newspapers.
“We are guardedly optimistic” that a deal might be struck, said state Economic Development Commissioner Joan McDonald.
Five of the six are already talking to the broker hired by the Journal Register Co. to try to sell the Central Connecticut papers slated to close in mid-January unless a new owner takes over, the officials said.
The other possible buyer, an anonymous New York newspaper veteran, met earlier in the day with the mayors of Bristol and New Britain. Both mayors expressed hope he might snatch up both dailies.
“We are pretty optimistic that this might materialize,” said Mayor Timothy Stewart of New Britain. “The prospects are pretty good that somebody will save these local papers.”
State lawmakers and economic development officials said their role in helping to land a buyer for the troubled newspaper chain is pretty much over unless someone asks for their assistance. Instead, they said, buyers and the broker hired to sell the papers are talking.
“We’re stepping back,” McDonald said.
It remains murky, though, who might be interested at a time when newspapers are taking it on the chin across much of America.
At least one is another newspaper company that responded to a letter sent out to 16 media firms by the state Department of Economic and Community Development, McDonald said. The Journal Inquirer of Manchester is also in the mix, according to Stewart.
Three of six prospects had been talking to the broker, the New Mexico-based Dirks, Van Essen & Murray. Another was put in touch with the broker through state Rep. Tim O’Brien, a New Britain Democrat. The other read about the papers’ plight and contacted the DECD, McDonald said.
The sixth prospect is the one the mayors spoke with in Stewart’s office Monday.
Both Stewart and Ward said the New York buyer is the most promising of all.
“He's most real,” said Stewart. “I think the prospects are pretty good here. They are looking to maintain that hometown nature.”
The mayors wouldn't name the individual from New York, but said he has many years experience as an editor, is not connected to any Connecticut paper and is not part of a newspaper chain.
“He does come from a strong background in journalism,” said Stewart. “He was very promising.”
Ward said he was “definitely, definitely interested” and has the financing in place to pull it off.
“Hopefully this will amount to something in the very near future,” Stewart said.Neither the JRC nor the broker has ever disclosed how much money they’re seeking for the papers. Officials said they would not name any potential buyers for fear of jeopardizing negotiations.
O'Brien said that he and other lawmakers working with McDonald’s office helped generate publicity that may have spurred interest from a buyer.
“Our efforts have succeeded in getting the word out to potential buyers," said O'Brien. "At this point, it's in their hands."
The five potential buyers who are speaking with the broker are "very much interested in doing something," said state Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democrat.
"It appears that negotiations are getting serious," Nicastro said. “It's important that we move forward."
The mayors of New Britain and Bristol said they each spoke with some of the same prospective buyers, but that each of them had been contacted by other potential buyers who were interested in just one of the papers.
Stewart said he spoke with someone from the Journal Inquirer, but Ward said he had not. Stewart said the Manchester paper was interested in both the Press and the Herald and that it was still in the running as a buyer.
Nicastro said citizens need their newspapers. He said he's heard from many constituents about his work to help save the papers.
"The vast majority of the phone calls are saying, do what you can do to save the newspaper," said Nicastro. He said if people didn't like it, he would hear from them.
Even if, in the end, no buyer comes through, at least they tried, Nicastro said.
"This can't hurt," Nicastro said. "This can only help the citizens of Connecticut."
O'Brien also said that voters in his district are in favor of his work to save the papers.
"We would like to see our hometown papers preserved," said O'Brien, who said he is "hopeful" that a deal will be made.
Local newspapers are "centers of community life," said O'Brien. "Their loss would be felt very severely."
Deputy House Speaker Demetrios Giannaros, a Farmington Democrat, said the loss of the state's daily and weekly papers threatened – and some already closed – by the Journal Register Co. means the "dismantling of local reporting for most of Connecticut."
Giannaros paraphrased Thomas Jefferson's comment about preferring a world without government over a world without newspapers. He said citizens like him who have become elected leaders often are in place because people have learned about them through coverage in local papers.
"It's a democratic process that must be maintained," said Giannaros.
State Rep.-elect Chris Wright of Bristol said he hopes it works out because losing the papers would be a blow to democracy. "How can you have a free press if there's no press?" he asked.
Selling the papers, though, has not proven an easy process.
Stewart said the records kept by the JRC that are being shown to prospective buyers are turning some of them away.
"The books aren't the greatest," said Stewart. "That's part of the issue."
Some of the concern, said Stewart, is whether the paper is viable. But he said a major stumbling block is that there just isn't enough information in the books to make a reasonable judgment about the business.
Former Bristol mayoral contender Ken Johnson, who was part of a group that considered buying the Press, said that “the lack of information from the seller has been a primary impediment to submitting any purchase offer.”
Johnson said the broker “actually felt compelled to apologize for the lack of information.”
Another complication, said Stewart, is that that the Journal Register Co. papers are so intertwined that it is complicated to sort out the truth about any particular newspaper.
Since the JRC notified employees in Bristol and New Britain on Nov. 11 that it intended to close the papers in 60 days, it has shuttered many weekly papers in southern Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The company is heavily in debt and its stock is worth less than a penny a share.]
The newspaper industry as a whole is reeling, with many papers struggling to remain afloat in the face of shrinking circulations and declining advertising. People are shifting their attention online, where newspapers frequently have as many readers as ever, but profits are elusive.
“It’s a challenging time” for newspapers, McDonald said.

Here's a sidebar about the state DECD's effort to find potential buyers:
State economic development officials reached out this month to potential buyers as part of an attempt to save more than a dozen threatened newspapers in Connecticut.
Commissioner Joan McDonald of the Department of Economic and Community Development said her office wrote to possible newspaper buyers to see if any had interest in buying The Bristol Press, The Herald of New Britain or any of the 11 weekly papers owed by the Journal Register Co.
"Our role is of a facilitator," said McDonald. "We sent 16 letters out. That was national as well as local."
The Journal Register Company told employees last month that it would close the papers – putting about 100 people out of work – if no buyer is found by mid-January.
In the letter, which is signed by McDonald, she wrote, "Many of these publications have intrinsic value to the communities in which they serve, and so the state is interested in working with potential buyers in an effort to keep and grow these important business operations in Connecticut."
The commissioner said she was asked by Gov. Jodi Rell to see how the state could help find a buyer and said the DECD helps businesses and organizations all over the state. She provided the newspaper companies with contact information for the New Mexico broker who was hired by the Journal Register Co. to handle any sale and for the DECD representative who would work with any potential buyer.
Her agency could provide "technical assistance, low-cost financing opportunities, and access to tax incentives for economic development projects, as well as assistance with site planning, environmental and regulatory issues, training, exporting, and research," McDonald wrote.
According to information provided by McDonald's office, letters went to the following companies: Gannett Co. Inc., Hearst Newspapers, Tribune Co., Cox Newspapers, Gatehouse Media, Herald Media, Landmark Communications, Lee Enterprises, The New York Times Co., News Corp., The E.W. Scripps Co., Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. and Advance Publications, Inc.
In Connecticut, the letters went to the Journal Inquirer of Manchester, the Record-Journal of Meriden and the The Republican-American of Waterbury.
On Monday, McDonald and some of her staff met in Hartford with representatives from Bristol and New Britain about the efforts to save the papers.
Once a prospective buyer connects with the newspaper broker, said McDonald, the state isn't actively involved and isn't privy to the details of the negotiations, including whether any potential buyer is interested in one of the daily papers, both dailies, a weekly or a combination of papers.
She stressed that the mid-January deadline to sell or close the papers is imposed by the Journal Register Co., not by the state or any potential buyer. If negotiations are "bearing fruit," McDonald said, she supposed there might be some "wiggle room" to extend the deadline a little bit.
She said the deadline is not impacting the due diligence her office is doing to check into any potential deal.
They do a "detailed economic analysis," said McDonald, examining the investment a company might make in property, equipment or jobs, as well as the financial impact the deal has on Connecticut, before putting any offer of help on the table.
"We can offer low interest loans, dependent on the number of jobs retained or created," said McDonald.
McDonald said the state can also help with breaks when a company buys new equipment or needs employee training.
"All of these programs are available to any business," said Rep. Tim O'Brien, a New Britain Democrat.
Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democrat, said he's doing what his constituents want by helping the papers.
"This is not a bailout. We're talking about incentives," said Nicastro.

Here's a copy of the letter the state Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Joan McDonald sent to 16 newspaper companies:

Dear Mr. XXX:

As you may be aware, newspaper publisher Journal Register Company recently announced it is seeking buyers for several of its daily and weekly newspaper publications. In Connecticut, these newspapers include The Herald, The Bristol Press, and 11 weekly publications.

Many of these publications have intrinsic value to the communities in which they serve, and so the state is interested in working with potential buyers in an effort to keep and grow these important business operations in Connecticut. Governor M. Jodi Rell has asked the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to reach out to businesses such as yours to determine your interest in acquiring any of these publications and to see if we may help in any way.

DECD is a state agency that provides technical and financial assistance to businesses and organizations throughout Connecticut. The department is a one-stop business resource that matches company needs with many programs and services. DECD can provide technical assistance, low-cost financing opportunities, and access to tax incentives for economic development projects, as well as assistance with site planning, environmental and regulatory issues, training, exporting, and research. To learn more about how we help Connecticut’s businesses grow, visit

The firm of Dirks, Van Essen & Murray from Santa Fe, New Mexico has been retained by the Journal Register Company to help manage the process of seeking buyers. The state point of contact is Peter Lent in DECD’s Office of Business and Industry Development. He can be reached at 860-270-8046 or

I encourage you to explore this possible opportunity and to contact us to see how we may be of assistance.


Joan McDonald

One little note: The mayors of New Britain and Bristol said they met with the unidentified New York prospect at 11 a.m. Monday for about 45 minutes. They said the man had met earlier with Ed Gunderson, publisher of The Herald and The Bristol Press.

The photograph of Stewart and Ward is from CT News Junkie's wonderful website. Here's the link to her story.
I'll add links to other news stories as I run across them.
Here is a story in The Hartford Courant.
The Republican-American of Waterbury has a story here.
Rep. Tim O'Brien weighs in here, which includes video of Channel 61's story.
The Associated Press wrote a story, too.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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No buyer for Press yet, but things are looking up

More details to follow, but state officials said today that at least five potential buyers have emerged for The Bristol Press and New Britain Herald. It's less clear if they're interested in the 11 weeklies threatened with closure.
One possible purchaser met this morning with the mayors of Bristol and New Britain.
"We are pretty optimistic that this might materialize," said Mayor Timothy Stewart of New Britain. "The prospects are pretty good that somebody will save these local papers."
Bristol's mayor, Art Ward, said he's excited about the prospect of a buyer emerging soon.
The five are "very much interested in doing something," said state Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democrat.
"Hopefully this will amount to somehting in the very near future," Stewart said.
State Rep.-elect Chris Wright of Bristol said he hopes it works out because losing the papers would be a blow to democracy.
"How can you have a free press if there's no press?" Wright asked.
State Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat, said he's more encouraged about the papers staying alive than he was after the Dec. 12 session between lawmakers and state economic development leaders.
"I feel better today than I did two weeks ago," Colapietro said.
At this point, it is clear that no deal has been struck. But perhaps we'll find out something solid in the days ahead.
In any case, I'll have more on here later this afternoon.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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The slowest news week

Though those of us in the journalism racket always bemoan August for its dearth of news, there really isn't a slower period than between Christmas and New Year's. It's almost painful to try to extract some nuggets of news when most people are away and those who are around have nothing much to say beyond mumbling about the need to diet in the new year.
That's part of the reason that newspapers long ago devised the space-filling trick of end-of-the-year wraps that hit the highlights of what they reported since the last deadly slow period after Christmas. I have no idea if anyone actually reads these things, but they're a staple of the business.
I don't think my week is going to be that slow, however, given the looming possibility that the Press will close down in mid-January. This afternoon, in fact, state lawmakers and development officials will be meeeting on that very issue, perhaps emerging to give us some clue about what might be happening behind closed doors.
And there's the increasingly dire budget situation that threatens to tear apart the fabric of local and state government as officials scramble to find billions of extra dollars. They know taxpayers are barely afloat already so options are tough to come by. Bristol may be in better shape than many cities, but it faces some tough choices, too, and soon.
I have a few odds and ends to catch up on -- I'm starting to realize there's no reason to wait on anything any longer since the paper's days may be drawing short -- but I'm always looking for more. Anything going on out there?

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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December 26, 2008

Hoping for something solid at Monday's newspaper meeting

Reporter Jackie Majerus wrote this story:
Lawmakers from Bristol and New Britain will meet again next week with state economic development officials about the fate of more than a dozen threatened Central Connecticut newspapers.
Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democrat, said he hopes something "substantial" will come of the meeting "instead of just speculation."
The delegation of representatives and senators from New Britain and Bristol will meet with Commissioner Joan McDonald of the state Department of Economic and Community Development on Monday at 1:30 p.m. in the Legislative Office Building.
"I've heard that there's a possibility it could work out, but beyond that, I don't know," said Rep. Tim O'Brien, a New Britain Democrat. "We don't have any real heads up."
The Journal Register Co., which owns The Bristol Press and The Herald of New Britain, has said it will close the two dailies and 11 community weekly newspapers in the region by mid-January if a buyer is not found for them.
About 100 people would lose their jobs if the papers close.
Though rumors have been swirling furiously about potential buyers, there's been no solid confirmation of anything definitive.
At one of those weekly papers, the East Hartford Gazette, the longtime editor, Bill Doak, put in a bid to buy his paper.
Doak said he hasn't heard whether his offer was accepted.
"I made an offer to the broker who is handling the sale," said Doak. "The ball's in their court. I'm waiting to hear."
Doak, who has led the paper's small staff since 1987, said newspapers like the Gazette are "small town institutions."
Doak said the Gazette managed to produce and deliver a paper during the Blizzard of 1888, when Main Street had snowdrifts 24 feet high. If they could do that, Doak said, they can weather this financial storm.
"We're part of the fabric of our community," said Doak, who said people in East Hartford just can't imagine life without the Gazette.
"The town deserves to have a weekly," said Doak, who said he isn't doing it for himself. He said he loves his job, but that he'd pass it on to another generation when the time came.
"I think I have the best job in town," said Doak.
O'Brien said when he's heard from any interested parties about buying one or more of the papers, he's referred them to the DECD.
He's eager to hear what McDonald has to say on Monday, said O'Brien.
"It would be nice if we could walk out of the meeting with a clear idea of where things stand," said O'Brien. "If there's good news to tell, I'm hoping we can tell it on Monday."
But O'Brien also said he's willing to be patient if it means a positive resolution.
Still, the deadline looms.
"It's gotta come to a head real quick," said Nicastro.
Both Nicastro and O'Brien stressed that any state involvement isn't a "bailout," as some have charged.
Help in the form of bringing a buyer and seller together, a low interest loan or other economic incentive, wouldn't be anything different than the state does for any other business, they said.
O'Brien said any help would go to a new owner, not the Journal Register Co.
Doak said the state ought to look at newspapers as they are – manufacturing businesses that produce a product locally that people use on a regular basis.
"It's a manufacturing company that actually makes things," said Doak. "It's a useful product."
Nicastro, a former longtime mayor, said the papers play a vital role in the cities and must be saved.
"I'm working as hard as I can with my fellow representatives to do what's right for the people," said Nicastro.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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Out with the old, in with the new

A controversial 19-member panel looking into the possibility of snatching excess pension cash to pay for other retirement benefits for city workers has been tossed on the junk heap.
“I’m not so sure a 19-member committee is all that functional,” said T.J. Barnes, who chaired it. “It didn’t seem like it was going to be worth everybody’s time.”
He called it “doomed to failure” because of its size and the “huge conflicts of interest” that many of the union-affiliated members had.
Replacing it is a seven-person GASB 45 Committee, named for an accounting rule and again headed by Barnes, will examine the prospects for saving millions for taxpayers by transferring cash from the pension funds to a new account set up to cover the future tab for health care coverage for retirees.
Mayor Art Ward said he dumped the initial committee for a trimmed-down new one because he is “trying to look for the most efficient way to address the issue.”
Ward said he made the change in the makeup of the panel because Barnes asked him to do it.
“I respect his opinion,” the mayor said.
Though it remains unclear what the city can do, it is eyeing the excess pension funds because using them would be the simplest, cheapest way to get the $72 million necessary to cover the anticpated future cost of post-employment benefits other than the pensions themselves.
City Comptroller Glenn Klocko said that coming up with the necessary money, which doesn’t have to be done overnight, is a “problem child” for officials who don’t want to hit up taxpayers for the money if they can find an alternative.
Barnes, the chair of the city’s Republican Party, said that Bristol is one of the few cities in America that has enough pension money to consider shifting excess cash into the new health care fund.
“We’re extremely lucky to even have it as an option,” Barnes said.
“As long as it doesn’t hurt integrity of existing benefits,” he said, the proposal “can be a win-win for everybody.”
Ward said the new committee consists of trustees of the different city pension funds and also includes the Board of Finance chairman, the city treasurer and Barnes.
Barnes said that under the law, it’s the trustees “who make recommendations to do anything to those funds” so it was important to ensure they were responsible for looking into it.
Barnes said that without the change in the composition of the panel, he wouldn’t have stayed on it.
Ward said that his choice to pick 19 people for the first board “was probably more idealistic than realistic.”
Plus, he admitted, the panel would have been unwieldy and less likely to reach a consensus.
“I’m busy as can be,” Barnes said. “I’m not going to spend my time as a volunteer to accomplish nothing. We’re either going to do this or not do this.”
Barnes said that it is rare for a municipality to possess pension funds that have more money than is needed to pay off future claims – which is still the case even after the Wall Street collapse this fall.
“It’s one of the few silver bullets” available to save money for taxpayers, Barnes said, and it would be “a big mistake” not to explore using it.
“We are extremely lucky to even have it as an option,” Barnes said.
Ward said that the new committee will make its recommendation to a joint session of the City Council and the finance board, which would have the final say.

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At least two out-of-state Press purchasers still eyeing paper

Despite rumors that the Journal Inquirer is going to buy The Bristol Press, there are at least a couple of out-of-state folks still considering the option.

Mayor Art Ward said he had long conversations with both of them Friday morning, but would not say anything about their identities except that both have some connection to the newspaper business.

"They were very encouraging phone calls," Ward said.

That doesn't mean, of course, that the JI isn't buying the paper. It only means that at least a couple of others believe they're still in the running. I'm pretty sure a local buyer is also still in the mix, too.

I hope we learn something more definitive soon.

The owner of the Press, the Journal Register Co., has said it will close the paper by Jan. 16, along with a dozen others in Central Connecticut. We're all eager for a buyer to step forward and prevent the doors from slamming shut forever.

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Meeting on newspapers on Monday afternoon

Press release issued today:


Members of New Britain’s and Bristol’s legislative delegation will be meeting again with Joan McDonald, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, concerning the announced closing of the New Britain Herald and the Bristol Press and several weekly papers-if they are not sold by January 12th. This meeting will be held on Monday, December 29th, at 1:30 p.m., in the Labor Committee’s Conference Room (Room 3800), 3rd Floor, Legislative Office Building.
For those planning to cover, there will be a press avail after the meeting at the 3rd Floor Outbreak Area in the LOB for interested media. Estimated time for the avail is 2:30 p.m.

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December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It's shortly after eight o'clock on Christmas morning. The sun is shining. The snow is melting. The day looks bright and happy.
I'm sitting in the empty newsroom of The Bristol Press, while my wife is off at the American Legion to write about a breakfast there for the homeless and down-and-out. My children are there, too, playing Christmas carols on the trumpet and piccolo for entertainment.
In a little while, I'll go over, too, and see if I help out in some way. But from the number of cars out front on Hooker Court, I don't think they're short of hands. Those old veterans are amazingly generous with their time and money. You can't help admiring that.
With the possibility of both of our jobs vanishing next month, Santa was a bit skimpy this year, but I know that's true for millions of households around the country, many of whom are in far more dire shape than we are. We're sitting pretty by comparison.
Besides, we have reason for optimism.
There are ever more rumors here that the Journal Inquirer's interest in acquiring The Bristol Press and the New Britain Herald has gone beyond simply considering the option. Some say a deal has been struck, which I cannot verify.
I hope that's true, of course, because the JI has managed to hold on tight to its journalistic mission and stayed true to its readers through these hard years for newspapers. As an owner, it would be worlds better than the Journal Register Co., the current owner, which has long specialized in abusing its papers, employees and communities.
So on this Christmas, I look around at the silent newsroom and I wonder if it will fall dark forever next month or if the new year will bring the kinds of change for which many of us have yearned for what seems like an eternity.
I'm counting on Santa to have one last present in his bag, for us at this little daily and for the people we serve, in this historic city in the middle of Connecticut.
Whatever happens, I do hope that everyone reading this feels the joy of the season and can find the hope that it embodies for a brighter future full of peace and plenty.
Those old veterans serving up breakfast, those men and women who have seen too much of war and death in their time, understand that the future we all want is going to come one tiny miracle at a time. In getting up early to help the neediest this Christmas morning, they are doing what they can to make that happen, as we all should, on this day -- and all days.
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December 23, 2008

Former Judge Robert Maynard dead at 83

Judge Robert Maynard died today. I'll post his obituary later.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday (December 27) at 9 AM from the Funk Funeral Home to St. Ann Church, 215 West St., Bristol, for a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 AM.

Here is the obituary:

Judge Robert R. Maynard, 83, ofBrightwood Rd, Bristol, CT passed away on Tuesday December 23 at home with his wife by his side.

He was born in Bristol June, 6, 1925 the son of Montcalm and Emma Maynard.

He is survived by his wife Margaret the love of his life of 56 years, his son Christopher of Tucson, AZ, Timothy and Karen Maynard of Bristol and their children, Alyssa, Christina and Thomas, Lisa Attle of Ashland, OH, and her children, Eric, Christine and Camille, Nicole and Richard Megos of Cromwell and their children, Carson and Aiden. He is also survived by nephews Kenneth, Steve, Paul, Donald, Michael and William, their spouses and children all form the “Maynard Clan” and will carry out his legacy.
He was predeceased by his sister Irene Mason and a son-in-law Simon Attle on October 7, 2008.
Robert most known to his family and friends as Bob and "Duke" during the World War II years lived his life to the fullest. He dedicated to his family and his community whom he loved so much. A life long Bristolresident, he was a man of many professional accomplishments. A 1943 graduate of Bristol High School, who was sent to the beaches of Normandy, France on D-day +3 for the invasion and liberation of France. During the invasion he was seriously wounded and sent to England for recovery and was later sent back to Pierrefond,France as an interpreter between the American forces and local French Government. After the war ended he came back to Connecticut, married Margaret, attended and graduated from WesleyanUniversity in 1952 with a BA.
He went on to attend and graduate from theUniversity of Virginia law school with a JD in1955. After law school Bob and Peggy returned back from Connecticut where he ran his mother's Insurance Agency, Maynard Insurance. He was admitted into the CT Bar Association and soon started his law practice on Laurel St. in Bristol from 1962 until 1990. During this time he was also elected to the position of Probate Judge and served honorably from 1984 until his retirement in 1994.
His many accomplishments both civically and politically in the Bristol community were; City of Bristol, Assistant Corporation Counsel 1956-1960, City of Bristol Chief Corporation Counsel 1963-1965, Democratic Town Committee 1947-1953 and 1955-1975 and Served as Chairman from 1964-1965, Register of Voters 1948-1952, Director and Chairman of Bristol Hospital/Greater Bristol Hospital Health Services, Inc., 1981-1983, Director and Chairman of Tunxis Community-Technical College Advisory Counsel where he received on June 4th, 1985 the Board of Trustees Merit Award, Director, of Bristol Savings Bank, Trustee of St. Ann Roman Catholic Church, Bristol, Member of St, Ann Parish Council, St. Ann Finance Committee, Member of the Club Franco-American de Bristol, Franco American War Veterans, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, L'Union des Franco-Americans of Connecticut and the United States Redevelopment Counsel for the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Bristol. As a man dedicated to God, his faith and his Church, he was made a Papal Knight of Saint Gregory the Great and was knighted in a formal ceremony at St. AnnChurch by Arch Bishop John Whalen in 1972.

As a combat veteran of World War II, he was awarded and received medals including the Combat Infantry Badge, The Bronze Star, The Purple Heart, Two Bronze Battle Stars, The Bronze Arrow for his NormandyBeach assault, and many more distinguished awards both personally, professionally and as a war veteran. He was a member of several war veteran organizations including Second Indian Head Division Association and the Military Order of the Purple Heart. He was appointed Agence Consular an Honorary Diplomatic Consul for the French Government from 1989 to 1995. On April 11, 1997, he was made a Knight of the French National Order of Merit by Decree by the President of France Jacques Chirac at a ceremony held at his home. His greatness as a man came through in his love, kindness, generosity, gentleness and tenderness that he shared with his family, and all of the people's lives whom he touched. He was the gentlest man.

Visiting hours will be held at Funk Funeral Home, 35 Bellevue Avenue, and Bristol CT.on Friday, December 26, 2008 between 4 and 7 P.M. A Mass will be held on Saturday December 27, 2008, 9 A.M from Funk Funeral Home to St. Ann Church at 10 A.M. His internment with full military, honors including a Council of Honorary Government Officials from Bristol City Hall, will follow in St. Joseph Cemetery, Bristol, immediately following his Mass. On-line guest book available at

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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The JRC sells a newspaper

For weeks, the owner of The Bristol Press, the Pennsylvania-based Journal Register Co., has been shuttering papers.
Today, for the first time since the wave of closures began in early November, there's word that the JRC has sold one of its papers.
The Hershey Chronicle, a weekly, is going to be sold to a cross-town competitor, according to a story on the website run by The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa.
Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean the Chronicle will survive, but it is the first tangible evidence of the company actually selling one of the papers it has threatened to close. That's a good sign for Bristol, which must be sold by mid-January or it will cease publication after 137 years.
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December 22, 2008

Nine more JRC papers to close

At least nine more Journal Register Co. weeklies in Pennsylvania will close in January if nobody buys them by Dec. 31, according to Lancaster Online. has another story on the looming closures (which is now updated here.).
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The entire Journal Register Co. is worth less than $79,000

Shares of the Journal Register Co., owner of The Bristol Press, took another tumble today. They're now worth one-fifth of a penny per share. Or, put another way, you could own 500 shares for $1.
The total value of the entire company? Less than $79,000.
I keep thinking it can't get any lower, but then the value sinks yet again. Pretty soon, I'll be able to buy the whole contraption with the pennies in my old Mason jar.
And I can't help wondering: what's to stop someone from snapping up the entire JRC for the price of a Big Mac Extra Value Meal? Couldn't somebody do that and then say, "No, we ain't gonna close The Bristol Press. No how, no way."
Of course, the trouble with buying the JRC is that you would then own it. But still....
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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Federal holiday on Friday crimps City Hall

A decision by President Bush to declare the day after Christmas a federal holiday this year may wind up socking city taxpayers for extra cash to keep City Hall open Friday.

A number of city offices – and the city libraries – will be shuttered to save money, while others will operate with less than full service.

The reason is that for the past 30 years, union pacts have required the city to grant days off to its clerical and “outside” workers if the state or federal government declares a special holiday.

Mayor Art Ward said that anyone in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers’ Local 233 or Local 1338 is entitled to a day off with pay on Friday, which means that if they are required to work, they earn double time.

Those that already had the day off, which many had requested already, won’t have to use up a vacation day to stay home because of Bush’s decision.

Ward said Monday he’s not too happy with the president.

 “Why they even think of something like this at this time is beyond me.” Ward said. His voice dripping with sarcasm, the mayor added, “it sure gave a big boost to our economic stimulus.”

The White House said that since 1952, federal workers have been excused from duty eight straight times on Dec. 26 when Christmas fell on a Thursday. The last time was in 2003.

In his Dec. 12 declaration of the holiday, Bush ordered that that executive branch agencies and departments close on Dec. 26.

The order doesn’t apply to the U.S. Post Office and it leaves the door open for key personnel to be called in to work, at holiday pay rates.

Bristol has agreed since 1978 to give its two biggest unions the day off whenever the state or federal government declares a holiday, which happens most often on the Friday after Thanksgiving and the days before and after Christmas.

Most of the time in the past decade, the city treated such presidential holidays the same as every other holiday.

This time, Ward said he wants department heads and others who are not covered to come to work and do what they can.

But union members won’t be called in unless it’s absolutely necessary, he said.

“It’s not an option. If it’s a paid holiday, it’s a paid holiday,” the mayor said.

But the day does pose some burdens for departmental operations.

For instance, the tax collector’s office is required to have one of its staff review money that comes in to make sure it’s all counted correctly. Without them, the office can’t operate, Ward said.

So the tax collector and her deputy will simply do paperwork behind closed doors, Ward said said.

Generally, the day after Christmas is almost painfully slow at City Hall, with almost nobody from the public showing up and phones mostly dead. It’s been a day for catching up with backlogged material for most of those who have worked.

Ward said the city is still reviewing exactly what’s going to happen on Friday.

He suggested that before anyone heads to City Hall for something on Friday, they call ahead and make sure the relevant office can handle it.

The libraries will reopen Saturday. City office will be functioning normally on Monday.

On Christmas Eve, City Hall is open only in the morning.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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We're not the only newspaper employees fighting to save our paper

Staffers at the threatened Rocky Mountain News are fighting to keep their paper alive, too, according to this story in the New York Times.
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Next meeting in Hartford on newspapers' fate will be on Dec. 29

The next session between lawmakers and state development officials is slated to take place next Monday, Dec. 29.
I figured that it would be too hard to find enough warm bodies to pull it off this week.
Meanwhile, we're trying to remain optimistic as the mid-January closure deadline draws ever nearer.
The Journal Register Co. -- owner of The Bristol Press --has said it will close the daily and 12 other Central Connecticut papers by Jan. 16 if they are not sold. There are at least a couple of potential purchasers, but the devil is always in the details, so we can only watch and hope.
The entire process is shrouded in secrecy, of course, because that has always been the JRC way.
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December 21, 2008

Let the presses stop so the Press can survive?

Jeff Jarvis makes a good case for turning off the presses and going online only.
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December 20, 2008

Board of Ed may be in crosshairs as budget takes shape

The Board of Education is likely to find itself in the budgetary crosshairs as city leaders try to cope with a revenue squeeze that threatens to shove property taxes higher.

“The Board of Education is really driving the whole city of Bristol’s budget,” said Comptroller Glenn Klocko.

The problem is that school officials have limited options to cope with the soaring tab for city taxpayers.

The state is eyeing a $5 million cut in its basic educational grant to the city – and some smaller cuts, too – while the expense of operating schools at the same level as this year would add another $5 million to the tab.

Superintendent Philip Streifer said he’s trying to convince lawmakers to waive some mandates that add to cost, including several days of continuing education for teachers.

Every day the schools are open costs $300,000 so trimming even a handful would make a big difference, officials said.

Streifer has already put a freeze on hiring and spending in a bid to keep this year’s $100 million education budget from breaking the bank.

“They’re really trying to help us,” Finance Chairman Rich Miecznikowski said.

But unless the schools can trim costs, many of which are mandates, or the state coughs up more cash, property taxes could rise as much as 2.5 mills next year, Klocko said. That’s about a 10 percent property tax hike.

Mayor Art Ward said that he’s angling to keep the city’s spending in the next budget year low enough to freeze property taxes – if the schools can do the same.

“The focus, unfortunately for them, is all on education,” Klocko said.

Miecznikowski said the finance panel’s biggest concern is the school budget.

“We can hold down the city side,” the veteran leader of the Board of Finance said. His panel shapes the budget, which is ultimately approved in May at a joint session of finance commissioners and city councilors.

Miecznikowki said that the school aid cuts on the table in Hartford represent “a big nut” to crack.

With a 2.5-mill tax hike built in if education needs don’t change, “we’re going to have to do something,” Miecznikowski said.

He said that if the state suspended 10 days of school costs through a furlough, it would save the city $3 million.

Miecznikowski said with so many people losing their jobs and struggling to cope with recessionary ills, city officials have no choice but to try to clamp down on spending.

“How can you go up in taxes?” he asked.

The current city budget plan calls for shelling out $172 million, with education receiving the majority of the cash.

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December 19, 2008

Another potential buyer?

In this story about the Journal Register Co.'s closure of 16 weeklies in southern Connecticut, the Hartford Courant mentions that "sources said Thursday that the company has received offers" for The Bristol Press and New Britain Herald "with some interest from outside the state."
Given that the paper couldn't even get a list of the weeklies that the JRC shut down, I'm not too sure about how solid its sources are, but that is the first time I've heard of any interest from outside the state.
I'm not sure what it means, but I hope that Google wants to buy us and make all of the employees at the Press into gazillionaires.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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Bogey's in our corner

Consumer watchdog Mike Boguslawski, whose career started at The Bristol Press, said Friday that he's in the paper's corner.
Boguslawski said he is "really outraged" that the Journal Register Co. would even consider shutting down the historic daily.
"We have to do everything we can to save our paper," Boguslawski said from his brother-in-law's home in Florida.
Boguslawski developed a statewide reputation as a television consumer advocate -- a career that ultimately  took him to Los Angeles and beyond -- but he said he's always "missed my hometown."
He plans to move back to Bristol in early January because he has taken a job as the director of consumer relations for American Home & Property Services of West Haven, a company that collects yearly fees from homeowners with the promise to repair water and sewer lines running between the street and houses.
Boguslawski said it's a brilliant concept for a business and is proving wildly successful. He's meeting with the Bristol water department next month to talk about its prospects locally.
Boguslawski said that he doesn't understand the opposition to the concept of the government bailing out newspapers.
He said that journalists wouldn't kowtow to government officials even if they receive big money from them.
He said that reporters have always tweaked the powerful and they don't care about the cash.
Boguslawski said he remembers a time on Connecticut TV when he did a story assailing a business that had purchased $1 million worth of advertising just two days earlier.
"I worked 'em over," Boguslawski recalled.
"It's just a roll of the dice" who gets lambasted in the press, he said, and money has nothing to do with it.
Boguslawski said he'd like to see the federal government pony up 80 percent of the money needed to save local newspapers, with the state and municipalities chipping in 10 percent each.
"What do you besides a paper to tell what is going on in a community? We'd have nothing," Boguswlawski said.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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A potential JRC buyer says company wouldn't provide enough information

A statement from former Republican mayoral candidate Ken Johnson, who was involved with what proved to be an unsuccessful effort to buy The Bristol Press this month:

As you know I was in conversation with local investors and then, more recently, a local businessperson who inquired about bidding.  The confidentiality agreement I signed with Dirks, Van Essen & Murray (the firm retained by the JRC) precludes me from discussing the particulars. I can certainly say, however, that the lack of information from the seller has been a primary impediment to submitting any purchase offer. My contact at DV&M actually felt compelled to apologize for the lack of information. Completing the necessary due diligence on a very tight timeline has been a factor, as well.

You may be right about the JI. That might be a best case scenario for the employees of the Press at this point. I still firmly believe that the best outcome for the City and for the Press would be a community-based ownership team as we had in the Barnes’ era. The JRC did us no favors and I wish them good riddance. It appears to me that a sale is likely, although, I can tell you from experience that there’s a lot that can happen from offer to acceptance to closing… Prospective bidders could express an interest in buying the Herald, the Press and the real estate or any portion thereof.  I have no expectation that anyone is going to show any interest in the real estate (99 Main St.) and, if there’s a sale, it will likely include the subscriber base, the advertisement database, the archives and the masthead and the employees needed to run a paper. There’s will be some value assigned to the hard business assets (but not much in my book!). If the buyer is already in the business, like the JI, I would expect the deal would include the Herald and the Press.

Johnson is apparently not the only possible buyer who has complaints about the dearth of information the company is providing. It doesn't speak well for the professed desire of the company to sell the papers.

But we're all trying to remain optimistic. At least another newspaper company has a pretty good idea what they're getting.


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