Sep 28, 2012

The Commander Returns!

Hometown hero  --  and rock & roll legend --- Commander Cody returns to The Parting Glass for his annual throwdown on Saturday October 6th at 9PM.

He "ain't never had too much fun", ya know....?

Get advance tix HERE to save a few bucks.

The Saratoga Assessment Office Mess: Ooh Ooh That Smell

We've been tempted to do a long piece on the Saratoga Springs ASSESSOR'S office mess. But, instead, we'll just offer some random bits:

1. We don't quite get Mr John Franck's claim that he could not "fix" the on-the-books error that everyone seems to agree was in place in regards to the setting of assessments on condo properties in the city. Doing so, he claims, would be something called a "selective"  process, which is illegal.

What we end up with, then, is the scenario that caused this big stink fest in the first place: that the only way to get one's condo property assessed at its proper (and lower) level is to get off one's ass and do something about it --  assuming that one knows that is it in error, that is.

Couldn't Mr Frank's office at least made a public announcement or sent a mailer out to everyone effected?

2. The City obviously has the power to subpoena outside (non-employees) individuals in this matter, as witnessed by its handing such paper to gun-slinging blogger John Tighe at one point. Why, then, is Ms Diane Young not being called to the witness stand here? She, after all, is at the heart of the matter on this.

The primary accusation being made by fired employee Mary Zlotnick is that Ms Young was getting preferential treatment from her superiors, thereby tee'ing her up with a nice little blessed sales pitch of  "If you want your condo assessment reduced, you have to hire me or City Hall won't listen to you".  Why is she not being put under oath and asked such questions as "Have you ever written a check or handed cash to any city employee?"

3. There is some thinking that Ms Zlotnick's attorney will run with a "Whistlelower" defense, either here or in a subsequent lawsuit. But Nanoburgh's understanding of the Whistleblower Statue in New York is this: it only applies in matters of public health. Examples: "my company is dumping chemicals into the Hudson" or "my boss lets lab mice loose at night, just for kicks." We're not sure it would apply to Ms Z's benefit; but what the heck do we know?

The Assessment office and process is ripe for corruption in any given town or municipality in the state. The grievance process is optional: most assessment adjustments are made at the whim of officials and their employees in those offices. A flick of a keyboard button and voila: some lucky property owner was just saved $XXX on his or her tax bill. Or voila: a property's value was just raised, making it that much easier for it getting a mortgage.

The system is broken and rotten to the core. It needs to be fixed. Ms Zlotnick is simply making that point in a very public manner --  and at great personal sacrifice.


Sep 22, 2012

If This Doesn't Make You Wonder Where the Hell We're Headed, I Don't Know What Will

No Caption needed

Sep 18, 2012

The Big Reunion x 2

They're back!


They're back!

Joy In Mudville as the Ben Folds Five return after a long absence -- and they team up with the Fraggle Rock gang, who has long been off the radar as well!

Can it get any better? We hereby ask that very question...

PS: the coolest thing about the Ben Folds Five?  A: There's only three guys in the band.

Sep 15, 2012

Thoroughbred Times: Kaput

In one more blow to the horse racing industry, the Thoroughbred Times magazine announced today its Ch 7 bankruptcy, which shuts the business down immediately.

With this once great sport on the verge of going the same way as professional boxing in the proverbial slow motion crash format, I have but one plea:

"Will somebody please hand me the keys to this business? Like: now?"


Sep 5, 2012

Saratogian chain files for bankruptcy

It was just a matter of time, and today that clock's alarm went off.  Here is the Official Spin:

Today Digital First Media announced Journal Register Company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to implement a prompt sale.
We expect the auction and sale process to take about 90 days, and I am pleased to tell you the Company has a signed stalking horse bid for Journal Register Company from 21st CMH Acquisition Co., an affiliate of funds managed by Alden Global Capital LLC.
So why file Chapter 11?
The Company exited the 2009 restructuring with approximately $225 million in debt and with a legacy cost structure, which includes leases, defined benefit pensions and other liabilities that are now unsustainable and threaten the Company’s efforts for a successful digital transformation.
From 2009 through 2011, digital revenue grew 235% and digital audience more than doubled at Journal Register Company. So far this year, digital revenue is up 32.5%. Expenses by year’s end will be down more than 9.7% compared to 2009.
At the same time, as total expenses were down overall, the Company has invested heavily in digital with digital expenses up 151% since 2009. Journal Register Company has and will continue to invest in the future.
But also from 2009 to 2011 Journal Register Company’s print advertising revenue declined 19% and print advertising represents more than half of the of the Company’s revenues. Print advertising for the newspaper industry declined approximately 17% over the same time period, according to the Newspaper Association of America. As well, both print circulation and circulation revenue have also declined over the same time period.
Since 2009, printing facilities have been reduced from 14 to 6; 9 of the 50 owned facilities have been sold and 8 distribution centers have been outsourced.
During the same time period, debt was reduced by 28% with the Company currently servicing in excess of $160 million of debt.
All of the digital initiatives and expense efforts are consistent with the Company’s Digital First strategy and while the Journal Register Company cannot afford to halt its investments in its digital future it can now no longer afford the legacy obligations incurred in the past.
Many of those obligations, such as leases, were entered into in the past when revenues, at their peak, were nearly twice as big as they are today and are no longer sustainable. Revenues in 2005 were about two times bigger than projected 2012 revenues. Defined Benefit Pension underfunding liabilities have grown 52% since 2009.
After a lot of thought, the Board of Directors concluded a Chapter 11 filing was the best course of action.
Journal Register Company’s filing will have no impact on the day-to-day operation of Journal Register Company, Digital First Media or MediaNews Group during the sale process. They will continue to operate their business and roll out new initiatives.
If you have questions just ask – you know how to reach me.
I know this announcement will leave you with questions – ask. Your managers, I and any member of senior leadership at Digital First Media will be available to answer.
And while I get this news may make some of you nervous, don’t let it. Concentrate on the job at hand and we will work through this. This really is the right decision for Journal Register Company.
John Paton
Chief Executive Officer


Sep 4, 2012

A Dumb Question on the Borders Space

OK, maybe there's no such thing as a dumb question (or is it dumb idea). But let's do some soul searching regarding the fate of the former Border Books space on Broadway at the Spa'aaaaaaa.

The Old Tenant: a large retail bookstore, which was the classic example of a 'creative destruction' victim, complete with a business model out of date with the modern mega forces of  global competition and the trend towards the digital delivery of e-books and the gleaming of desired information via the internet.

The Possible New Tenant (as in the one that seems to have the whole community mobilized to do everything it can to convince it to locate on this site): a large retail bookstore.

What am I missing here??????