Time to Get Busy Edition

Get busy this morning. NCAA Tournament games begin around Noon, and today and tomorrow are among the most unproductive days of the year for bracket-watchers. The Louisville Cardinals, Pres. Obama’s pick to finish second in the whole thing, don’t play until Friday, but Western (the smart pick for a 12 over 5 seed upset) takes on Illinois late tonight.

Help Wanted: The city says the job’s too big, so it’s bringing in outside contractors in hopes of getting all the winter storm debris picked up before Derby. Jerry Abramson had to get unions to agree, then called it a “good deal for taxpayers.” The city is hoping FEMA picks up 3/4 of the tab, and that the state will pay 12.5 percent. But the city has no idea what it will cost. [Courier]

Neighborhood Pride: We just voted for Old Louisville and the Nulu/East Market district in a local website’s popularity contest for neighborhoods.  [Broken Sidewalk]

If the State Can Do It: Gov. Beshear announced a new website that allows citizens to track the federal stimulus money and Jake is not impressed. Well at least it’s a nice gesture. It beats the city’s effort. [Page One, Louisville]

The Bus Stops Here: We agree with the C-J’s editorial writers on this one – changing the bus transportation system for Derby Day is a giant step backward. It’s hard to imagine all those gussied up partiers boarding school buses. And we don’t trust the new vendor. [Courier]

How do you spend $950K to remodel a bowling alley to make it a sports bar?:  We know some bar owners who could make do with a lot less for a remodel project. But they say the city is giving that much away to Cordish for the Lucky Strike project. CityBlock’s Ward Plauche has asked city development chief Bruce Traughber for a meeting to see how he can get some of that “downtown revitalization” money.

Large Life, No Payments: WHAS-TV’s Adam Walser tried to track down an E-town man living large in a $2.5 million house he hasn’t paid for, but Wayne Ireland wasn’t home. And it sounds like he was hiding in a closet at his office, where Walser found his car. [WHAS-TV]

Proposed I-66 Makes Waste List: Check out this opinion on a $10 billion proposal to build Interstate 66 in Kentucky, which would stretch 420 miles, tearing through the Daniel Boone National Forest. It makes a Top 7 list of wasteful and unnecessary projects that could get stimulus funding. [HuffPo]

Trolling for Coupons: Searching carts at Kroger looking for discarded coupons is an obvious sign that the obsession has gone too far. But WAVE is urging this behavior on, profiling its own staff members (couldn’t they at least leave the building to find consumers?) and doing live chats on the topic. [WAVE]

Union Accepts Wage Cut: In Lexington, the union representing the Herald-Leader voted to accept a five percent across-the-board wage cut in order to lessen the anticipated job losses. Publisher Tim Kelly says everyone will know by Monday who’s losing their jobs, but the union move could save as many as five full-time positions.  The paper has 335 employees. [H-L]

Bad Gets Worse in Lexington

We’re hearing rumors that the cuts we said were coming to the Herald-Leader may be even worse than expected. On March 9, parent company McClatchy announced it was cutting 15 percent of its work force.

Now we’re hearing that publisher Tim Kelly will announce deeper cuts at the paper next week. Take a look at our report, from Page One:

Multiple sources at the Herald-Leader contacted us this afternoon to share the publisher’s announcement. Next week 20-25% of the newsroom will be cut. If the staff agree to a 5% pay cut and one-week unpaid furlough, it’ll be 20% or 14 people. If there’s no agreement, it’ll be 25% or 19 people canned.

So, brace yourselves. This is bad news for Kentuckians who depend on the H-L for news.

Now, the good news is that we’ve kept open our search for a top-notch Assistant Editor here at Full Signal.

The Hits (At Papers) Just Keep Coming

This morning the McClatchy Co., owner of the Lexington Herald-Leader, Miami Herald and Sacramento Bee, announced it will cut 15 percent of its work force, which amounts to 1,600 jobs, throughout the company.

In Lexington, publisher Tim Kelly said he’s working on a plan to reduce expenses, but won’t be ready to make an announcement for a few weeks. So Herald-Leader staffers have a few anxious weeks ahead of them. But obviously more newspaper jobs will be lost.

The company announced a 10 percent workforce reduction in September, but continued declines in ad sales are forcing McClatchy to cut deeper.

Lex vs. Lou: Who’s Got the Better Scandal?

It’s not enough that Louisville and Lexington compete over which has best basketball team, race track and nightlife. Now, the two cities have a competition going to see which has the most corrupt scandal uncovered by the state auditor.

And while the Metro Housing Department’s record of misusing grants and hiring and overpaying relatives of city officials provides an impressive list of misdeeds, I’m giving the nod to the Lexington airport scandal for sheer outrageous behavior. Reading the auditor’s report you just wonder one thing — how did these people think they’d get away with it?

There’s a great analysis over at Page One, along with a link to the entire thing. It’s amusing and disgusting at the same time.  It’s got everything. The marketing director spent $729 on Hannah Montana tickets; an AA seems to have used airport money for her regular household shopping at Target and Kroger. And the guy in charge of it all, Michael Gobb, has a cigar and alcohol fetish. And yes, there’s a whole list of sex/porn expenses.

Let’s hope that, like the reaction to the Auditor’s report in Louisville last week, this one gets the attention of law-enforcement authorities and somebody does some jail time.

I think Lexington gets the nod for best official scandal. What do you think?

Wednesday Afternoon Update In Rick’s Absence

Rick is still experiencing connectivity issues with the site, so I’m sharing some links he just passed along.

Does Mo Know Kentucky? One of the funniest guys on the planet, Mo Rocca, will be in Frankfort today for a press conference hosted by the Kentucky Historical Society. We’re hoping he’s got some new “make fun of Kentucky” jokes, or that he’ll mention us on his blog, where of course he’s preoccupied with American Idol. [Mo Rocca’s Blog]

AA Skirts the Open Records Law: We all knew there was some hanky panky going on with the way the Arena was picking contractors last fall, prompting the filing of a lawsuit by RAM Engineering. Now Jack Conway says the smart guys at the AA were conspiring to “subvert the intent” of the open records law by denying RAM access to records. It’ll cost them. [C-J]

Turfway’s Big Plans: If only the legislature passes Greg Stumbo’s video slots bill, Turfway Park will spend $150 million on a destination casino, even though there would be no table games. And, by the way, it’s not going to happen. [Enquirer]

Lexington’s Scandal: That Lexington airport scandal just keeps growing. After it was revealed they charged Hannah Montana tickets to their company credit cards, three top managers resigned. New blood is on board. I’m experiencing scandal-envy. [Herald-Leader]

Not Like a Virgin, A Real Virgin: This 23-year-old woman in San Diego is auctioning off her virginity. To pay for a masters degree. And she’s got a $3.7 million offer for a one-night stand. Start of a trend? [UK Telegraph]

Rep. John Yarmuth played a major role in the re-authorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Go read his floor speech in support of the expanded legislation. [Page One]

McClatchy Lays Off 1,400 Employees

And the Lexington Newspaper Guild calls the company (which owns the Herald-Leader) out for its hypocrisy. This is all after McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt told employees in April that future business cuts would be “humane, sensible and with an eye toward the future.”

Bet you can guess how the Guild feels about everything.

From a press release:

The Guild does not believe it is humane when employees who have put in a lifetime of service to McClatchy and Knight-Ridder are thrown to the curb while McClatchy’s excessive corporate bureaucracy remains untouched. In fact, just last week McClatchy added a new corporate vice president.

The Guild does not believe it is sensible that Mr. Pruitt is allowed to keep his $800,000 performance bonus from last year, even though McClatchy stock has lost 71 percent of its value.

The Guild does not believe downsizing is the best approach to our future and believes McClatchy and the Herald-Leader would be more successful by strengthening core departments and improving websites, while seeking additional venues for its quality products.

Seems like the bottom line is always more important than the common good.

Update: Editor & Publisher has a story about all this. Check it out.