Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hail & Farewell

Hail and farewell

Leaving the Daily Record after 10 plus years: How lucky I was, landing a job in my 60s! Thanks to business editor Ron Stepneski, editor Bill Donnellon, publisher Tom Guyer.
I’m leaving because I was forced out: My financial column--syndicated-- was canceled, and I was relegated to writing business stories. (Groundbreakings.) Hell, that’s work, not fun! Ostensibly because the newspaper needs to become more local; possibly because the editor, Flachsenhaar, thought I was too identified with the paper, and wants no rivals. Didn’t want to share the limelight with anyone. (A flaw of the paper: Those in charge are pathologically status- conscious.)
A good 10 years. Admirable people I’ve met. Pat Brennan, Dave Bugen and the RegentAtlantic people, Marylou Reeves, the people at Franklin Mutual Series, David Winter, lots of CFPs.
Wonderful colleagues and former colleagues. Carol Thompson, Debra Scacciaferro.
Bad times. Being sued. But we won. (I had a witness, fortunately.) Having my blog canceled for stupid reasons. Having a column gutted because someone seeking attention argued that “crackers” in a humorous column in reference to southerners was insulting. That angry former colleague who desperately needed a therapist.
Accomplishments: P Brennan and I held >20 public forums, making money every time. Kathy & I started the first annual tax call-in, with the NJ CPASociety. Bringing celebrities here—Muriel Siebert, Jane Bryant Quinn, Jos Battapaglia, David Winters. (John Bogle was to be next.)
Let’s see. I worked 10.5 years, wrote (almost always) 3 columns a week—besides other stories. 52 X 10.5 X 3 = 1,638.
Teaching at County College. Speaking to any group free of charge. Starting a breakfast study group, with most of the biggest money managers in the state.
Praise: The former publisher who said the only thing he reads in the paper now is my column. The former publisher who said that he was proud that the paper has a syndicated columnist. The two people who hired me telling me that I was the best hire they ever made. The former staffer who said I was just about the only friendly person here—and was amazed that I took him to lunch!
I’m worth [illegible], so I won’t have any financial problems. (A secret: I was paid around $40,000 to write three columns a week in 4 days a week—and lots of other stories. I wound up working 5 ½ days a week.)
I’m sorry I never learned what Susan SL did around here. And I’m sorry to leave the newspaper in such bad financial shape—and with such a poor prognosis. I mean, a slightly sleazy publisher whose first move is to set up special parking places for the higher-ups? (See what I mean by status-conscious?) And who seems to have a mean streak? (Judy G let go after 23 years?)
An editor who talks and talks instead of listening? Who writes a bit facilely and a lot gaseously? Who preens and postures? Someone said of him, slightly clever and profoundly shallow.

Good luck, guys. I hope you make it!


Ps--Still always available for lunch!


New Daily Record publisher Cavone comes over to me, introduces himself, and says he worked with Glen Ritt and Jim Flachsenaar. Watches for a rise out of me. (Ritt fired me from the Bergen Record because I had complained to the publisher about his killing a column of mine.) I just said: The names ring a bell. (I had never met Flachsenaar, but knew he had worked with Ritt. He came to the Bergen Record, supposedly to be Ritt’s deputy, but was ignored—left the Record, became a mere copyeditor for a while.)
Then Cavone introduces Flachsenaar to me. Cordial conversation. But Cavone seems vexed—his face twitches—did he expect some fireworks between us?—he seems disappointed.
I’m walking out the building. Someone calls my name. Cavone. “Hey, Warren,” he calls with a big smile. I wonder: A friendly gesture? Or is he getting ready to stick a knife into my back?
Then I learned that my column is being killed. I’m still in shock. Many if not most of my columns were local. They were well read, I think. I asked to keep one national column—to remain a syndicated columnist. No answer. Then the veils lifted from mine eyes. They just wanted me out.

One person I won’t miss: Houlihan. Kisses the bosses’ behinds while being rude and contemptuous to everyone else. There’s one (or two) in every office.
A Jewish woman, hurt, asked me: Is Houlihan anti-Semitic? No, I said, she just mistreats anyone she doesn’t feel she has to suck up to.

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