Archive for March 2010
Newspaper closures are playing in Peoria as the Time-Observer, a free weekly, has announced its last publication will be April 28. The newspaper had been delivered free to homes in North Peoria and Dunlap.
Citing the changing media landscape, TimesNewspapers’ publisher Linda Smith Brown announced the publication’s cessation.
“Our goal is to discern how to best serve the Peoria greater market and we are shifting our focus to Woodford County at this time,” Brown said.
“TimesNewspapers will be utilizing our manpower and resources to launch a new publication.”
Longtime editors of the Peoria Times-Observer, DeWayne Bartels and Tom Batters, will produce the new Woodford Times, which will begin publishing May 5, with delivery to Metamora, Eureka and Germantown Hills households, Brown said.
There is no word on the fate of the other six people listed in the staff’s contact box on its website. One of those people is Brown.
Small businesses are concerned about the effects of the health care law, but pharmaceutical companies are expecting a huge booom to thier bottom line. The U.S. drug industry fended off price curbs and other hefty restrictions in the health care law even as it prepares for plenty of new business when an estimated 32 million uninsured Americans gain health coverage.
Steve LeBlanc of The Associated Press today examines the concerns that small businesses have over the new health-care law in his article today:
The national law doesn’t require businesses offer insurance but hits employers with 50 or more workers with an annual $2,000-per-employee fee if the company doesn’t insure them and the government ends up subsidizing their workers’ coverage.
The national law also grants tax credits for businesses with 25 or fewer workers with average annual wages below $50,000, which Democrats say that will benefit 3.6 million business nationwide. And beginning in 2014, businesses with up to 100 employees will be able to pool their employees in state-created insurance exchanges to increase their negotiating clout with insurance companies – a move supporters say could aid 29 million businesses.
… Such penalties make Doug Newman, owner of Newman Concrete Services in Richmond, Maine, nervous. In the past 18 months, as the economy battered the construction industry, Newman’s work force shrunk from 125 employees to just 25.
He is worried that once the economy turns and he begins to hire back workers, he’ll face a critical decision when he nears the 50-worker mark and is no longer exempt from penalties. Newman now pays 60 percent of his employees’ individual premiums and 40 percent of their family premiums.
“The 51st employee could mean $100,000 in costs. I’ve been calling it the concrete ceiling,” he said. “No employer is going to hire No. 51 if it brings all these mandates down on you, because they’re pretty onerous.”
Don Day is also worried. Day owns eight small businesses in McKinney, Texas, including two restaurants, a boutique hotel and several retail shops.
Although he employs 125 workers, he offers health care for just a few key employees. Just an extra $200 a month per employee for health care could set him back hundreds of thousands of dollars a year – a cost he can’t afford.
“It’s not just me, it’s every small business across this land,” he said. “A lot of small businesses are going to go out of business.”
It would seem like an easy decision for any small business in 2014. Drop health care as a benefit and pay the fine. With health-care premiums well above $7,000 a year for businesses, you would be saving $5,000 a year.
This may be good for the individual business, but bad for the taxpayers, as each taxpayer would have to pick up the tab to subsidize those going into the exchanges.
The story also talks about employers welcoming the new law:
Rand’s Do It Best Hardware store on Main Street in Plymouth, N.H., has been in owner Steve Rand’s family for more than a century. About a decade ago the company switched from providing a full health care plan to having employees share in the cost of rising premiums.
Since then, those costs have spiraled out of control and Rand hopes the new law lets him pool his workers in state-run exchanges to increase his purchasing power.
“This legislation is really a positive step in the right direction, allowing us to get back in the business of making our company able to offer a health plan,” Rand said.
Michael Widmer, president of the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation – which supported the state law – said the requirement for near-universal coverage has been a much bigger issue for local businesses than the fines for not offering insurance.
That provision, known as the individual mandate, is costing local businesses between $500 million and $750 million extra annually, he said.
“There is no doubt that with the individual mandate there will be more employers picking up the tab,” he said.
Large pharmaceuticals are also big winners in the new law.
The U.S. drug industry fended off price curbs and other hefty restrictions in the health care law even as it prepares for plenty of new business when an estimated 32 million uninsured Americans gain health coverage.
Lobbyists beat back proposals to allow importation of low-cost medicines and to have Medicare negotiate drug prices with companies. They also defeated efforts to require more industry rebates for the 9 million beneficiaries of both Medicare and Medicaid, and to bar brand-name drug makers’ payments to generic companies to delay the marketing of competitor products.
The impressive list of wins is testament to a carefully planned and well-financed lobbying strategy, led by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry’s deep-pocketed trade group. The trade group has been led by former Louisiana U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin, a Democrat, whose $4.5 million in earnings in 2008, the most recent figure available, underscore the high stakes for the industry.
Costly brand-name biotech drugs won 12 years of protection against cheaper generic competitors, a boon for products that comprise 15 percent of pharmaceutical sales. The industry will have to provide 50 percent discounts beginning next year to Medicare beneficiaries in the “doughnut hole” gap in pharmaceutical coverage, but those price cuts plus gradually rising federal subsidies will mean more elderly people will purchase more drugs.
Michael Calderone is leaving POLITICO for Yahoo News in a matter of weeks. Here is the memo:
Michael Calderone, who has built a reputation as one of the top writers covering media and helped build POLITICO’s reputation along the way, is moving on….
He has an interesting job at a new venture being sponsored by Yahoo. The post will allow him to continue to draw on his deep expertise about the personalities and debates within modern media that was his signature here.
I imagine that those of us here will continue to be in Michael’s crosshairs…not a new experience for me, either before or during his time at POLITICO. I know first-hand that Michael is a dogged and fair-minded reporter, and I hear similar comments from journalistic colleagues all the time. We all wish him luck at Yahoo.
The media beat is critically important for us-a terrific opportunity for an energetic and creative reporter. We would welcome all ideasâ€”either if you are interested for yourself, or have good thoughts on people we should be recruiting.
Please do let me know, or check in with Beth Frerking.
City officials in Davenport, Iowa, yesterday reversed their decision to removed Good Friday from their municipal calendars and replaced it with “Spring Holiday” after City Council members were caught off-guard by the change.
A recommendation from that city’s civil rights commission started the controversy. The move ignited a wave of protests with people calling it “political correctness run amok,” reports Russell Goldman of ABC News.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook since Saturday,” said city council alderman Bill Edmond. “People are genuinely upset because this is nothing but political correctness run amok.”
Edmond said the city administrator made the change unilaterally and did not bring it to the council for a vote, a requirement for a change in policy.
“The city council didn’t know anything about the change. We were blind sided and now we’ve got to clean this mess up. How do you tell people the city renamed a 2,000 year old holiday?” said Edmond.
It didn’t take long for the city the resurrect the name Good Friday. [City Administrator Craig] Malin was overruled today [March 29] and the words “Spring Holiday” disappeared.
The Civil Rights Commission said it recommended changing the name to better reflect the city’s diversity and maintain a separation of church and state when it came to official municipal holidays.
“We merely made a recommendation that the name be changed to something other than Good Friday,” said Tim Hart, the commission’s chairman. “Our Constitution calls for separation of church and state. Davenport touts itself as a diverse city and given all the different types of religious and ethnic backgrounds we represent, we suggested the change.”
… The commission, he said, discussed changing Christmas, but decided enough other religions celebrate Christmas too. Hart, however, could not name one.
The Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal’s new owners have announced that they plan to cut 10 percent of the newspaper’s staff, amounting to 48 people, the newspaper’s website reported today.
The 48 employees were offered a severance package, chief executive manager James Hopson said, according to the report. The newspaper had a workforce of 470. Michael Redding will become publisher on Thursday when Halifax Media takes control of he newspaper.
[CORRECTION, March 30 at 2:40 p.m. Eastern: Brian Flinchpaugh writes for the Globe-Democrat. The original version of this post had incorrectly stated that he wrote for the Post-Dispatch.]
The St. Louis Newspaper Guild accepted Saturday a 5 1/2-year contract with management at the Post-Dispatch.
The agreement with Lee Enterprises will cut employees’ pay by six percent immediately, but there are provisions that would restore some of the cuts down the road if profits increase. The vote was 132-54.
Brian Flinchpaugh of the Globe-Democratwrites:
“People want the Post to succeed and they want Lee to succeed and they want to keep the Post strong,” said Jeff Gordon, president of the St. Louis Newspaper Guild and a sports columnist at the Post. “That’s the hope.”
Gordon said guild members realized if they fought Lee, they could have damaged the Post-Dispatch. One guild strategy if the contract was rejected was to mount a $500,000 public relations campaign against Lee.
The campaign would ask the public to suspend their subscriptions to the Post. More help may come from the national Communications Workers of America.
That could have lead to more layoffs and make an already bad situation worse, he said.
Gordon said guild leaders and some members worried whether they would get anything more if they rejected the contract. Other labor negotiations at newspapers in Minneapolis, Chicago and other major cities are following a similar pattern.
The guild represents reporters, photographers, editors, advertising personnel and other employees