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Since November 2, 1999

April 13, 2002 - Saturday

Is it true? I received an email saying that the multiyear contract to produce the Navy News weekly newspaper, which was awarded to Gannett and then canceled after a protest by the Star-Bulletin, has again been awarded to Gannett's Honolulu Advertiser. But I haven't seen a word about the contract in either the Advertiser or Bulletin, if indeed the contract decision has been made. The Navy News web site indicates the paper is produced by the Advertiser, but it isn't clear whether or not this is on an interim basis or under the long-term contract. Does anybody out there have any hard information on this? Can you please let me know?

More critical comment from a reader on the Star-Bulletin's expanded distribution of its real estate section:

The facts are there -1)They have a bunch of racks on Fort St. on Saturday. Hardly the home buyers marketplace.
2)Home buyers want open house guides for the weekend. The 60,000 in Midweek take out the open house guide!
3) Free publications have never had 1/8 the punch a paid publication has for readership. All these thing are being done by the Bulletin because they 70,000 readers behind their promised 130,000 circulation.

And for those who wonder--still no kittens as of late yesterday afternoon.

5:28 a.m. and the garbage truck just made its run down our little street. I guess it's officially morning.

April 12, 2002 - Friday

I'm in trouble now. I haven't finished our taxes yet. Meda leaves on Sunday for a conference on the mainland, so I've got to finish before she leaves in order to get her signature on the final forms. Ms. Siamese still hasn't delivered up her kittens. And the sun is rising this morning around 6:15.

I struck out again on Wednesday in my search for the artist who signed a painting with the initials "GHM" back in 1924. I've been on this search on and off since last September. This week I tried the research library at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. No immediate luck in their file of local artists, which is surprisingly weak. At the end of last week, I plucked a likely name from, a California painter (George Henry Melcher) of the same period. But a check with the Long Beach Museum of Art, which has a collection of his paintings, says none were signed with initials, and they had no record of him visiting Hawaii.

So it's been frustrating. What a way to end the week.

I received several strong reactions to Tuesday's comment about the Star-Bulletin's new Island Homes section, which is going to be given extra circulation. Apparently Gannett folks think this is folly, doubt the Bulletin is really delivering what it has promised advertisers, and don't believe Realtors are going to be getting their money's worth in the deal. It will be interesting to see how this homes section develops in the next couple of months as this project gets rolling.

April 11, 2002 - Thursday

Employees working around MidWeek's presses in Kaneohe will begin next month by voting whether to be represented by the Graphic Communications International Union Local 501-M. There are about 60 employees who have been declared part of the bargaining unit. GCIU primarily represents press operations in private print shops around town.

I picked up the NLRB's decision (dated March 29) at the end of last week, and wrote a brief item on the vote for this week's Honolulu Weekly.

The NLRB ruled that the bargaining unit will include employees from the composing and camera departments, the bindery, and the press, including a couple of warehouse workers who mainly are assigned to the press. The union lost its attempt to exclude several longtime company composing room employees, two with 20-years experience each at MidWeek. The company lost its bid to have all press operators declared supervisors. As of the end of last week, the NLRB was aiming for a May 1 vote.

I received an unconfirmed report that MidWeek had rescinded the salary cuts for some or all of MidWeek's staff, while maintaining the "voluntary" cuts in the Star-Bulletin newsroom. If true, it would be a relatively traditional employer's attempt to undermine union support by posing as employee friendly. Hopefully the folks at MidWeek have been around enough to see through this kind of transparently obvious manipulation.

The move by GCIU to organize MidWeek's press operations has not been warmly embraced by other labor organizations. The local is headed by Thomas "Tommy" Sing, who apparently carries the stigma of once being seen as "raiding" another union's turf, and folks in this business have long memories. Sing's organizing style also differed greatly from that used by the Newspaper Guild and CWA, which stress grassroots leadership and active participation, while Sing collected authorization cards in a series of 1-on-1 or very small group meetings with MidWeek staffers.

An NLRB staffer commented that this vote was delayed by an unusually long period of legal infighting as the employer tried to redefine the proposed bargaining unit.

David Black, who bought the Star-Bulletin and MidWeek last year and then merged most of their operations, has a mixed reputation when it comes to unions. He has a general reputation of being strongly anti-labor, but I was told by a union official who represents employees in several of Black's Canadian newspapers that they consider him one of the better employers they work with.

I did manage to update the photo gallery yesterday, and also added a few new Mornin' Dog photos to the collection. Use these links or click on the appropriate banners at the top of the page.

Axel & Maile


April 10, 2002 - Wednesday

A "Happy Birthday!" to my sister, Bonnie, in Groveland, California, up near Yosemite, where the overnight temperatures are still in the mid-30s.

Here in Kaaawa, we got down to the beach just in time to see a green flash yesterday morning, just a few seconds before I snapped this photo. As we walked past Swanzy Beach Park, the sun wasn't quite up yet. The problem is that there are then about a half-dozen houses before you get to the beginning of the beach and an open view, and the sunrise was very close. So we stepped into the yard of one of those houses, where you could see through to the ocean, and in just seconds the green flash made its appearance, riding the sun into a new day.

After the green flash

John Pritchett sends along this plug: On Saturday, April 6, The Muddy Bottom Boys (Bass: Rick Ermshar, Guitar and Vocal: John Pritchett, Banjo, Mandolin and Vocals: Shawn Ishimoto, Drums: Robert Fazzari, Recorded by: Bart DaSilva) recorded two Jeremy Harris political parody songs written by Honolulu Weekly cartoonist John Pritchett.

"Man of campaign sorrow" is about Jeremy's woes with Campaign Spending Commission director Bob Watada. And "The Ballad of Jeremy Harris" is about, well, Jeremy. Warning: If you're not familiar with Pritchett's cartoons, let's just say that he is not a big Jeremy fan.

In case you missed the small stories reporting the latest move, the Campaign Spending Commission has dismissed its charge that Jeremy's campaign violated state law by failing to report funds raised for the Democratic National Committee. They've got a face saving line--not enough staff to sustain the investigation--but it just wasn't going to fly legally. It seems to be relatively obvious that the law envisions candidates contributing to or raising money for their own national party. And if it were reported by the candidates' state committee, how would that impact their own fundraising? For example, if someone gave Jeremy's campaign $2,000 intended for the DNC, would that amount also count towards their contribution limit for Jeremy's own campaign? There are just too many problems with the Commission's theory, and they should never have taken it this far.

April 9, 2002 - Tuesday

A Star-Bulletin insider responded to Sunday's comment about the yellow bumper stickers.
Yeah, the yellow stickers are cheesy but that was the point. It got you and the writer of the email to read it. It was to introduce the Island Homes section as a free pub. Just more ad dollars that have come over to us. The yellow stickers will come off. It's kinda like a grand opening sign.

Well a least it worked, the 'tiser has tried everything to prevent the publication from hitting the streets. It still amazes me what we can do will such a small staff, sure there's still a lot to do, but hey.

Erika Engle's "The Buzz" column last Friday explained what's happening with the Island Homes section. Here's what she had to say:

Circulation of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin's Island Homes section will be expanded to 150,000 copies per week.

The Island Homes real estate section will remain available in the Sunday Star-Bulletin with another 15,000 to 20,000 at 150 locations around Oahu, said real estate advertising manager Eran Kennedy.

Racks will be placed at Zippy's, Longs Drugs, Daiei, Borders Books & Music, Safeway stores, real estate offices and selected developments. Island Homes will also appear as an insert in MidWeek to appear once a month on a rotating, zone-by-zone basis.

The Honolulu Board of Realtors and Star-Bulletin have also entered into a partnership to create a real estate portal to include all the MLS listings, Kennedy said.

I stopped at the Kahala Barnes & Noble store yesterday. I was interested to see that they had a stack of the anti-Gannett book, The Chain Gang, on their current events shelf.

April 8, 2002 - Monday

The Advertiser scored again with another Jim Dooley / Johnny Brannon double--Dooley's story yesterday about the program director who shakes down prisoners' families for cash, and Brannon's today on funded needed to buy out the accrued vacation time of political appointees.

Some time back, the Advertiser's plan was to put more resources into investigations and local news. Obviously that's what they've done, and it's working.

Two of the Kaaawa cats to the vet yesterday for what hopefully remains a relatively minor ailment, then back home with a supply of antibiotics. Time to pick up some shares of Veterinary Centers of America (which trades under the symbol WOOF). At least there would then be the illusion of getting something back every time we pay one of these bills.

April 7, 2002 - Sunday

5 a.m. and the roosters have started crowing at our end of Kaaawa.

The Star-Bulletin came in for some constructive criticism in this missive received yesterday:

I thought someone vandalized all the Star Bulletin racks with yellow bumper stickers. Then today I walked by one and noticed the Bulletin vandalized their own racks! The stickers were for some free home pamphlet. The one thing I liked about the Bulletin was their racks, and now the screwed that up. It looks cheesy!

I'll have to watch for a photo op later today.

And this observation from another reader:

I've noticed a bunch of Star Bulletin street sales people selling the paper for 35 cents. I asked one how they made any money, and he said they got to keep everything they got for most of the papers. He wouldn't tell me how many though. Interesting!

I had noticed the 35 cent sales as well, but never stopped to inquire. I'm glad someone did. You've got to wonder whether this hint of entrepreneurship produces increased street sales.

While in the San Francisco Bay Area earlier this year, though, a price war had driven daily prices for the major regional papers down to 25 cents. And you get a lot more newspaper for the price.

Both these photos were taken yesterday of the little office Siamese. Same cat, different light. Really. As usual, click on either photo for a larger version.

Neither photo displays her rotundness, which is really quite exaggerated. She kind of lumbers around looking very uncomfortable. These kittens had better appear soon.

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