Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I got this email from Elizabeth Patton:
John, I really enjoy reading about you and Paula’s travels, experiences, etc. I can truly sympathize with your recent trip to Auburn, as I live in the mountains of Georgia and experienced first-hand more than 12 inches of rain in a two-day period.
I read that Harry is taken up with taking care of Helen, so I am sending you my updated address and e-mail address to post on the website. My address number has changed, but I haven’t moved. The county in which I live set about to re-address the entire county so I was given a new number. Something about GPS location so the emergency services can find me. I guess that’s good.
Anyway, my new address is
Elizabeth M. Patton
1160 Hidden Lake Road
Blairsville, GA 30512
My new e-mail address is email@example.com
Thank you for taking care of this, and I hope you continue your postings.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Harry took care of the email address change since I'm not proficient in that area yet.
If I ever am back in Ohio, I will try to stop by the luncheon. I would love to hear some of Terry’s stories. Thanks again, Elizabeth
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Not satisfied with that, I asked Elizabeth to provide me with more information, particularly since her departure from the BJ. Here's what she replied:
If you recall, while I was at the BJ, I was editor of the Sidebar Magazine and I left in 1993 to take a position of Executive Director of Project:LEARN, an adult literacy program in Medina.
While at the Beacon, I lived in Cuyahoga Falls. When I took the position in Medina I moved to a beautiful flat above the Fireplace Store on the Square in Medina until I moved to Georgia in 1996.
Why Georgia? Well, I had friends that I used to visit in Florida and all they talked about was this beautiful place in the mountains of Georgia where they were going to buy property. I didn’t even realize there were mountains in Georgia! Anyway, they bought property in Union County, GA and eventually moved here.
So when the time for my next visit came, I came here to Blairsville to visit with them. And they were right. It is beautiful, peaceful, and all the things that make it a wonderful place to live. I recall being able to sit on their deck and actually hear the leaves fall to the ground. I knew right then I wanted to move there.
So in March 1996 I bought a house on 1.5 acres and packed up lock, stock and barrel and moved – without a job waiting! My family thought I was nuts.
I was fortunate to land a job as the Executive Assistant to the County Commissioner which I held till I retired in 2003. It’s a large county but with a very small (28,000) population. Our only city, Blairsville, has about 800 residents. Pretty much one of those everyone-knows-everyone communities.
Sixty percent of the county is in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest, which limits building and growth. Both good things to those of us who live here. One of our most famous attractions is the Appalachian Trail which comes through our county.
It's typical small town personified – politics and religion – both heavily infused into everyday living. About 150 Baptist Churches, 1 Catholic, so that tells you something as well.
My daughter, Cynthia, is owner of a law firm in Marietta, GA; and my son, Michael, is the manager of a CVS pharmacy in Dallas, GA – both within 2 hours from me.
I live with my best buddy, a beautiful Brittany Spaniel named Cookie.
I keep in touch with Sue Murphy, who worked in Advertising (at the BJ), and her hubby, Mike, who live in Hilton Head, SC. We visit back and forth and keep in touch, albeit mostly online.
I have had e-mail conversations with Ed Suba, Chuck Montague and Phil White on occasion.
Although we are off the beaten path and a little hard to find, visitors are always welcome. On a map, Union County is the last county in Georgia just 20 miles from North Carolina’s western border. (check out unioncountyga.gov for county website).
Sorry for rambling on. That’s about it from here, Elizabeth
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To see photos of Elizabeth, dog Cookie and the Patton property in Blairsville, GA, click on the headline.
Connie Bloom's fabric art studio is included in the Artwalk, but she's off to Boston for a week with a girlfriend. Usually Connie is in the Red Light Galleries, 111 N. Main Street, next to Luigi's. Go up the stairs and Connie would be the third door on the right. The Red Light comes from the building once being a bordello.
The City of Akron provides free trolley service for the entire route.
Click on the headline for details.
For the original story on former Beacon Journal writer Connie's quilt art, go to the upper left on this page and, in the white rectangle between the white "B" on orange background and "Search Blog," type in
And then press the "Enter" key on your computer.
Click on the headline for details about former Beacon Journal national award-winning food writer Jane's book.
Scroll down this BJ Alums blog to the headline that reads
UA Press publishes Jane Snow recipe book
for the original post on Jane's cookbook.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Dawidziak adapts and directs the show and portrays Twain. His wife, Sara Showman, and Jason Davis also are in the cast. The Falls library is where Largely Literary gave its first performance, in 2002 – Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Dawidziak first portrayed Twain in one-man shows during the early 1980s in Tennessee and Virginia.
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The email from Dawidziak:
After a run of "Twain By Three" shows in Cleveland this summer, we're bringing our new three-person version of the Mark Twain show to Cuyahoga Falls for an Oct. 15 performance.
Hope you can use some of this. If nothing else, let several hundred friends know about this.
Library budgets are getting trashed left and right, as you know, and attendance at such events is one way for libraries to make their case.
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For information, call (330) 928-2117.
To see photos of Dawidziak as Twain, and sketches by our Mark of the Missouri Mark, click on the headline.
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Also presenting storytelling programs for schools, the company recently premiered its one-act drama, “The Mystery of Dashiell Hammett,” as part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read initiative. For bookings, contact Dawidziak and Showman at the Largely Literary Theater Company: (330) 923-8350 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Among those reading or singing will be PD and former BJ television critic Mark Dawidziak, former PD and BJ writing coach Stuart Warner, the BJ's David Giffels, former BJ-er turned author Thrity Umbrigar and drop-of-the-hat commentator and talk-show host Dick Feagler, never at a loss for words. And, apparently, a cast of dozens.
Reservations at $20 a pop are available at (216) 795-0550. The shows will benefit the Cleveland Heights-University Heights public library. There also will be a silent auction.
For more details, click on the headline.
My company has just launched a sports website covering high school sports in
Summit and Medina counties -- www.sportsink.com. We've just completed our
first month in operation and have received very good feedback. The site
generated more than 6,000 visitors in the first month and more than 37,000
We are completing some additional functionality for the site and, once
complete, we plan to license the software for use in launching other high
school sport sites around the country. SportsInk.com is our pilot site.
In the meantime, we are in need of a full-time copy editor, and I thought
that perhaps there might be former ABJ employees looking for employment.
Would you be willing to send out the attached job description to your
mailing list of the BJ Alums blog or post it on your site?
Thanks for your assistance.
Sports Reporting Technologies
4000 Embassy Parkway, Suite 400
Akron, OH 44333
tel. 877-799-9994 ext. 2102
Managing Editor/Copy Editor, www.SportsInk.com
Akron-based web site company dedicated to high school sports news coverage in Summit and Medina counties is seeking an experienced copy editor to help run day-to-day operations as Managing Editor.
The position requires minimum 5 years copy editing experience. Background in sports reporting and Internet publishing helpful. Must have an interest and motivation to work in a self-managed, fast-paced, technology-based environment. Evening and weekend shifts required.
Day-to-day management of content appearing on the SportsInk.com web site.
· Edit stories from reporters and correspondents
· Contact coaches for game scores and highlights to fill in any missing scores
· Write a round-up story each night from scores and highlights received from multiple games
· Select photos, media to accompany stories
· Oversee placement of stories on various pages
Communications with important contingencies
· Monitor SportsInk’s public e-mail accounts and respond and/or take action as necessary
· Respond and follow up as necessary to coaches’ and athletic directors’ e-mails
· Provide feedback to reporters or regular contributors regarding their articles
Please send resume to:
Sports Reporting Technologies LLC
Tel. 330-666-5164 ext. 2102
Beacon Journal Newsroom contest winners for 2008
Name Contest Place Category Notes
Staff Scripps Howard Foundation Finalist Public service reporting American Dream
David Lee Morgan Jr. Ohio Prep Sports Wrtiers Association First Writer of the year
Staff National Headliner Awards Second Journalistic innovation American Dream
Staff SABEW Best Projects American Dream
Mike Rasnor APSO Third Blogger
Mark J. Price APSO Third Best headline writer
Betty Lin-Fisher APSO Honorable Best business writer
Rick Armon APSO Third Best business writer
Rick Steinhauser APSO First Best graphic artist
Marla Ridenour APSO Third Best sports feature writer
David Giffels APSO First Best news writer
Ed Suba Jr. APSO First Best feature photo
Rick Armon APSO Second Best explanatory reporting
Staff APSO First Best community service American Dream
Lisa Abraham Association of Food Journalists Finalist Best newspaper food column
Bob Dyer National Society of Newspaper Columnists Third Notes/items
Staff Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism First series/project American Dream
Phil Trexler Ohio Excellence in Journalism First Breaking news Bobby Cutts trial
Rick Armon Ohio Excellence in Journalism First General news Losing our home
Betty Lin-Fisher Ohio Excellence in Journalism First Columns-Business Challenge yourself
Rich Heldenfels Ohio Excellence in Journalism First Reviews/criticism single article Other side of Polanski case
David Giffels Ohio Excellence in Journalism First Best in Ohio: Essays
Mark Turner Ohio Excellence in Journalism First News front page design Front page news design
Staff Ohio Excellence in Journalism First Spread/multiple page design Reclaim the Dream
Staff, ABJ, Ohio.com Ohio Excellence in Journalism First Best Web site in Ohio
Lisa Abraham Ohio Excellence in Journalism First Columns-Lifestyle A taste of tradition
Mike Cardew Ohio Excellence in Journalism Second Sports action Sole Sister
Ed Suba Jr. Ohio Excellence in Journalism Second Sports feature Game Winner
Ed Suba Jr. Ohio Excellence in Journalism Second General feature A mother wait
Mike Cardew Ohio Excellence in Journalism Second Portrait Freedom
Staff Ohio Excellence in Journalism Second Public service American Dream
Stephanie Warsmith and Dennis Willard Ohio Excellence in Journalism Second Investigative OSU ticket scandal
Ohio.com, Akron Beacon Journal Ohio Excellence in Journalism Second Newspaper web site design Ohio.com
Tracy Wheeler Ohio Excellence in Journalism Second Medical/health writing Stem cells mature
Lisa Abraham Ohio Excellence in Journalism Second Columns-Lifestyle World pasta day
Dave Scott Ohio Excellence in Journalism Second Headline writing Billy Goat's owner is still on the lam
Rich Heldenfels Ohio Excellence in Journalism Second Best in Ohio: Reviews/Criticism
Kim Barth, Ed Suba, Mark Turner Ohio Excellence in Journalism Second Spread/multiple page design Middle Class Health Care
Dennis Willard Ohio Excellence in Journalism Second Best in Ohio: Column writing
Elissa Murray Ohio Excellence in Journalism Second Best in Ohio: Headline writing
Ohio.com, Akron Beacon Journal Ohio SPJ First Best of Show: General News Site
Bob Downing Ohio SPJ First Best newsmaker profile An American Hero (John Seiberling)
Bob Dyer Ohio SPJ First Best columnist in Ohio Body of work
Paula Schleis Ohio SPJ Second Best business profile A Barber in Barberton
Rick Armon Ohio SPJ Second Best explanatory journalism Losing our home
Stephanie Warsmith and Rick Armon Ohio SPJ Second Best government reporting Fight for control of Summit GOP
Dennis Willard Ohio SPJ Second Best media criticism OSU tickets
Bob Downing and Stephanie Warsmith Ohio SPJ Second Best newsmaker profile Ralph Regula
Dennis Willard Ohio SPJ Second Best political commentary Body of work
Dennis Willard and Stephanie Warsmith Ohio SPJ Second Best public records use OSU tickets
Staff Ohio SPJ Second Best public service journalism American Dream
Well done, guys, under some very difficult circumstances. I know that the BJ won four Pulitzers during my 26 years there, with Doug and then-ME Larry Williams being the main reason for the Pulitzer over the Goldsmith Goodyear greenmail ugliness that still is costly to the Akron business scene, but we had John S. Knight and a much fuller newsroom.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
By John Olesky (BJ 1969-96)
Paula and I maneuvered monsoons, murky mountains, malady and Mountaineer misfires meted during my 56th post-retirement trip, and 31st with her, Sept. 19-23.
The primary reason for the trip was to go to a football game that was played by my alma mater, West Virginia University, against Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium. As usual for these once-a-year WVU road games, we tacked on extra days to enjoy the region. Ha!
The start of the Saturday night game in Auburn was delayed an hour by the monsoon – 2.5 inches in little more than an hour. Earlier, when we left Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airport, we should have rented Noah’s Ark instead of a car. I-85 traffic was slowed by visibility-impeding torrential rains – up to 12 inches in a few days, and most of it, it seemed, while we were driving toward Alabama. Atlanta streets had water up to two feet deep rampaging through like the Colorado River before the Hoover Dam tamed it.
The morning after the game, we headed to Cherokee, NC, which is an elk’s throw away from The Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s entrance. The road signs say that we drove over The Smokies to Gatlinburg, TN and back. I’ll have to take their word for it. The murderous murky mist made it impossible to see more than a few hundred yards. I got out of the car and walked toward Clingmans Dome, at 6,643 feet the highest point in the Smokies, in Tennessee and on the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail footpath that runs from Maine to Georgia. Visibility atop Clingmans can be up to 100 miles. For us, try 100 feet.
Tourists in Gatlinburg seemed happy that they could see well enough to go from shop to shop. It’s why people come there, I guess.
A word about visiting Cherokee. Brown-bag it or eat at McDonald’s. Don’t trust the local “restaurants.” I have the out-of-body (in both directions) memories to prove it.
We had to delay our return home by a day because of the malady and cascading waterfalls – on the rain-smothered roads, including Interstates.
The football game? Oh, my Mountaineers lost a 14-0 lead and the game, 41-30, gift-wrapping six turnovers (five interceptions, one fumble) for the home team, which had the most friendly and hospitable fans I’ve encountered in my football travels over the years. Southern hospitality is no myth.
Last year, we flew to Colorado to watch the Mountaineers play. WVU lost.
In 2007 we flew to South Florida to watch the Mountaineers play. WVU lost.
In 2010 we plan to fly to Baton Rouge to watch the Mountaineers play LSU.
Put your money on the Tigers.
To see photos of our trip, click on the headline.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Feel free to express your opinion. After all, we've spent our careers supporting the First Amendment, which made our profession No. 1 among the Founding Fathers of this country. Just keep it civil, and avoid personal attacks. That's the decent thing to do. And I attach my name to my opinion. That seems less cowardly. But that's just me. And I'll be happy to pull any comments out into the open in this post where everyone can see and evaluate them.
If you want to see the original story on the Composing retirees' lawsuit against the Beacon Journal and Mr. Black, the Canadian, click on the headline. There also is information on how you can join the battle, if you choose.
The "comments" so far:
Hopefully you lose. We've all had to make sacrifices. You should too, you greedy old bastards.
Nice way to respect your elders, who made sacrifices for YOU. When someone is promised something in a contract, the other side doesn't get to take it away without consequence. What the BJ did--taking away promised prescription coverage--is no different from stealing from someone's 401K account. The account belongs to the beneficiary, not to the company. That's not a "sacrifice." That's a rip off.
The sacrifices you may have made were negotiated and put there by the 'old folks' in the first place. How do you think the company had something for you to sacrifice?
No one ever put a gun to the heads of company persons agreeing to the terms of a contract.
John Olesky said...
Management loves it when its workers don't understand that protecting the rights of one segment is important to all segments. Long after we stopped having children I supported maternity benefits because that's what union members do. And the retirees, while they still were working, and happily, at the Beacon, gave up part of their pay raises every year to get the health care benefits that they were promised. These amounts are on record at each negotiations and the actuaries who made the calculations were paid jointly by the union and the company, which each got copies of what each item added to or subtracted from the contract's cost.
Management would love for every person to think he/she can go it alone. It saves them tons of money.
The takebacks, despite written guarantees not to do it, ARE a form of thievery.
Retirees, incidentally, are VERY sympathetic to current BJ employees. It is a situation that we abhor on your behalf. We know that you are trying your best, as we did when we worked for the Beacon Journal, only under far more difficult circumstances than we had under Jack Knight's leadership. Current BJ non-management employees and BJ retirees are on the same side.
I know it's common for "old folks" to bring up John Knight, but Jack was a newspaperperson's newspaperman. He felt, and acted like, both management and employees were in the great newspaper adventure together. Once Tony Ridder came into the picture, that attitude died.
And now an international company controls what happens to current employees and retirees. Are there really any current non-management BJ employees or BJ retirees who are happy with that situation?
But, as current and retired newspaper folks know, debate is healthy. That's why we were/are bulwarks in the First Amendment for decades.
Gina White said ....
I think you could certainly attribute greed to the Beacon Journal's action in cutting retiree benefits.
Anonymous said ....
Sorry to hear about the Canadian reneging on the deal.
However, the "lifetime employment" guarantee explains how the Beacon has had to retain columnists and especially editors who, may I say politely, have been pulling the paper down for years.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The lifetime employment applied only to Composing personnel, which is at the center of the lawsuit involving retired printers. Guild retirees were guaranteed that they would keep the health care in effect at their retirements for the rest of their lives.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
U.S. District Judge David D. Dowd held a status conference today in the White, et al. v. Akron Beacon Journal Publ. Co., et al. case. He set a hearing for October 26, 2009 at 3:00 pm on the Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction. That is, Judge Dowd will decide whether to enjoin the Akron Beacon Journal from failing to pay the promised health-care benefits to retirees of the Typographers Union. The hearing will be at the U.S. District Courthouse in Akron, and the Plaintiffs, Regina and Dave White, Ruth and Tom West, and Hugh Downing would welcome all interested retirees and their spouses to attend to show their support.
To see the original story on the lawsuit, click on the headline.
The book is filled with great recipes: everything from Akron favorites like Nick Anthe’s Bean Salad and Cranberry Velvet to classics such as Pennsylvania Pot Roast, Tomato & Corn Bisque, and Julienned Squash with Walnut Butter to exotic dishes like Nid D’abeilles and Gazpacho Andalucia. But, Jane Snow Cooks is more, it is alive with the stories behind the recipes. Snow shares history, her experience, and helpful tips with the reader in a way that is entertaining and informative. As you go through and cook some of these amazing recipes, expect to learn the origins and history of the dishes and have a great time.Jane Snow will be at several events over the next few months. Check this calendar.
Click on the headline for more book information.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
If you wish to join the lawsuit against the BJ and Black Press to get the health care coverage you were promised in writing, contact:
Donald P. Screen at (440) 829-4577
Screen says he "would welcome" Newspaper Guild retirees to join the suit since we had "minimal co-pay" in our prescription plans at the times of our retirements. In my case, $2 per prescriptions, which has long since passed by the wayside. While the primary focus of the original lawsuit is for the printers' union, Guild retirees eventually will be part of the lawsuit, too.
Members of either union, if they wish to join the lawsuit, may contact:
Subodh Chandra at (216) 578-1700
The lawsuit is being handled in Ohio by
The Chandra Law Firm, LLC
1265 W. 6th Street, Suite 400
Cleveland, OH 44113.1326
The first contact made by BJ Composing retirees Dave & Gina White was to Allen Anderson of the Michigan law firm. Anderson may be contacted at
Anderson's email address is
The case name is
White et al v. Akron Beacon Journal Publishing Company, Inc. et al
The case number is
The Communications Workers of America also is providing counsel for the lawsuit:
Attorney Richard R. Rosenblatt joined the lawsuit on behalf of the Communications Workers of America, Local 14514, which includes retired BJ printers.
Judge David Dowd Jr. is handling the case.
My thanks to two Guild retirees who sent me copies of the Plain Dealer story on the lawsuit while I traveling to the West Virginia-Auburn game and then ducking floods that paralyzed much of Georgia.
The Chandra firm's press release on the lawsuit filing:
September 22, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Subodh Chandra
216.578.1700 (o); 216.965.6463 (m); or Subodh.Chandra@StanfordAlumni.org
Retirees Sue Akron Beacon Journal for “Bait-and-Switch” Scheme
AKRON, OHIO – Today, retirees from the Akron Beacon Journal filed a federal class-action lawsuit against their former employer and Canadian media mogul David Holmes Black for engaging in a “bait and switch” that denied them contractually guaranteed, lifetime, low-cost health care in exchange for their early retirement.
These retirees, who are members of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 14514, which was formerly known as the Akron Typographical Union, International Typographical Union Number 182, had been guaranteed lifetime employment with the Akron Beacon Journal as part of their union contract. The Journal persuaded these retirees to take early retirement and give up their right to lifetime employment in exchange for low-cost prescription-drug and other healthcare benefits for them and their spouses for the rest of their lives.
The suit alleges that in 2006 the Journal breached its contract with the retirees, who took early retirement by replacing their low-cost prescription-drug coverage with high-cost plans, causing a significant financial burden and leading, for some, to declining health. Black played a key role in interfering with the Journal’s contractual obligations after he assumed control of the company.
The retirees released the attached Fact Sheet that explains the details of their case against the Journal, including the contractual obligations that were made and violated and the harm that has been done to the health of the retirees.
Retiree attorney Subodh Chandra said, “The Akron Beacon Journal convinced these people to give up lifetime job security, a permanent salary, and enhanced retirement benefits in return for diminished retirement incomes and guaranteed low-cost health care. But instead of keeping faith with their retirees, the Journal began cutting away the health-care safety net that they had been contractually guaranteed.”
CWA has joined in the suit. Seth Rosen, CWA District 4 Vice President stated, “Employers must be made to stand behind the commitments they make to their employees and retirees, who after all made it possible for the company to grow and prosper. To callously cast them aside is both legally and morally reprehensible. CWA stands behind these retired employees and their spouses as they seek simple justice.”
The suit, seeking an injunction and damages, is captioned White, et al. v. Akron Beacon Publishing Co., et al., and was filed in the United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division.
The Chandra fact sheet on the case:
Akron Beacon Journal Retirees v. the Akron Beacon Journal
People expect newspapers to tell the truth. Certainly, employees of the Akron Beacon Journal didn’t expect their own newspaper to lie to them when it promised them low-cost, lifetime health-care benefits in return for giving up their guaranteed right to lifetime employment. But the Journal did lie to its employees, reneging on its health-care guarantees after its employees gave up their right to lifetime employment. These employees—now retirees—have suffered irreparable harm from the Journal’s bait and switch and are now suing in federal court to force the Journal to keep its word.
For almost as long as anyone can remember, the Journal has tried to keep valuable employees on board by promising them lifetime employment, a practice still common in the publishing industry. Many members of the Akron Typographical Union, Local 182 (now merged with the Communications Workers of America), received such a guarantee decades ago, either when they first signed up to work for the Journal or shortly thereafter.
By the 1960s, however, the Journal began offering a “Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program” to more senior Union members. If these employees agreed to retire by a certain date and give up their right to permanent employment, the Journal promised that they would continue to receive some of the same, attractive health-care benefits enjoyed by active employees. Having been told by the Journal that this offer was good only for a short period of time, and not wanting to risk being stuck with a less attractive benefits package later on, many senior Union members took the Journal at its word and agreed to retire early.
Voluntary-Retirement-Incentive-Program Benefits that the Journal offered to different retirees included:
· A lifetime prescription-drug card entitling its bearer (and his or her spouse) to purchase all needed prescriptions at only nominal cost, e.g., for a $2.00, $3.00, or $5.00 co-payment.
· Lifetime hospitalization and surgical coverage for retirees and their spouses (which becomes “secondary” upon eligibility for Medicare) on the terms in effect as of the date of their retirement.
In November 2006, the Journal (by then under the direction of Canadian media mogul David Holmes Black) sent a letter to those who had retired under its Program, outlining certain “changes” to these retirees’ health-care benefits. Among other changes, the letter explained, the prescription-drug card would be replaced by another card under which far greater ($40.00 in the case of non-preferred drugs) co-payments would be required. The letter also implied that it would do no good for retirees to complain about the changes, since the retiree benefits had not “vested”—meaning that the Journal had every right, under the applicable collective-bargaining agreement with the Union, to make whatever changes it wished.
The Journal’s publisher and Human Resources Director offered similar justifications at informational meetings, or whenever retirees telephoned or stopped in to complain. Mr. (David Holmes) Black insisted on these changes, retirees were told, “because he could.”
Since February 2007, class members have been forced to pay considerably more for prescription medications than they had been paying before the Journal’s unilateral cancellation of their guaranteed, bargained-for benefit. Many have also been harmed irreparably.
HOW RETIREES WERE HARMED
Example 1: The experience of class member John Costello is typical. Mr. Costello suffers from a severe and degenerative arthritic condition. Before the Journal changed his benefits structure, Mr. Costello was able to control his arthritis pain with an injection costing $600 weekly, but which, with the Journal’s prescription-drug card, he received for a co-payment of only $5.00.
As Mr. Costello recounts, “When the Akron Beacon Journal unilaterally cancelled my prescription-drug benefit, I was unable to afford these arthritis injections and stopped taking them. Since then I have experienced daily arthritis pain.”
Example 2: David White has suffered in a variety of ways. He was among those to whom the Journal promised supplemental health-care coverage under which he would incur little or no out-of-pocket expense for most medical services. He estimates that, in 2008 alone, he and his wife, Regina, were forced to pay some $6,000 in medical expenses that, under the program he was promised, would have been either no-cost or very low-cost. He also estimates that they paid about $1,200 in 2008 for prescription drugs that would once have cost about $200.
His most significant injuries, however, have been non-monetary. His long-time general practitioner, who treated his high-blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, now refuses to see him because his replacement insurance, through Aetna, is unacceptable. Indeed he has had an exceedingly difficult time finding any physicians in the Venice, Florida vicinity willing to accept this insurance.
Example 3: In addition to paying, in 2007 and 2008, some $2,000 more for medications than he should have, Hugh Downing suffered the indignity of being told by Aetna that he is “too old” to receive Darvocet to control the pain he experienced following facial surgery for skin cancer. Mr. Downing also suffers from coronary-artery disease and has had a heart attack, angioplasty, and numerous stents and heart catheterizations. Although for these serious conditions his doctors prescribe only name-brand medications, Aetna pays (when it pays at all) at most for generic forms. Mr. Downing is forced to pay out-of-pocket for needed name-brand prescriptions, such as Plavix, which cost him $80 for each refill.
He has also had to contend with other burdensome and expensive Aetna requirements, such as the necessity of having prescriptions pre-certified, of having to try certain “prerequisite” drugs first, and of having to absorb different co-pays depending on a drug’s “tier.” He believes his health has suffered as a result of his inability to afford or otherwise gain access to the medicines prescribed by his doctors.
Example 4: Ruth West, similarly, has difficulty affording the name-brand medications her doctors have prescribed for her diabetes, for a thyroid condition, for high-blood pressure, and for acid-reflux disease. Against her doctors’ advice, Ms. West often opts for generic drugs (which themselves are more expensive without her promised drug card) or simply “does without.” Due to all the added expense, some of her conditions are going untreated and have become worse.
Affected retirees gave up a valuable right—the right to lifetime employment—in reliance on the Journal’s promise of nominal, fixed prescription-drug co-payments, and have experienced increased cost and, in many cases, declining health as a direct result of the Journal’s actions. They relinquished job security, a permanent salary, and enhanced-retirement benefits, and instead accepted diminished retirement incomes—only to be left holding the bag for the increased price, and decreased accessibility, of their prescription medications. They believe the Journal breached an enforceable contract and also violated certain federal laws, and they are determined to have their benefits.
The Plain Dealer story on the lawsuit follows:
Akron Beacon Journal retirees sue company over change in health care benefits
By Olivera Perkins, Cleveland Plain Dealer Reporter
September 22, 2009, 5:58PM
Some Akron Beacon Journal retirees and their union filed a class-action suit today alleging that the company violated a contractual obligation to provide lifetime health care, including prescription drug benefits at a minimal cost.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, says the retirees gave up lifetime job security in contract negotiations in exchange for an early retirement incentive program that guaranteed lifetime supplemental health care benefits, including "prescription-drug benefits requiring only minimal co-payments." The benefit included the surviving spouses of retirees as well.
Regina White, whose husband, David, is a retiree, said the family's out-of-pocket medical costs went from $100 a year to $6,000 a year.
The plaintiffs' lawyer, Subodh Chandra, said the company was using "bait and switch" tactics.
"The Akron Beacon Journal convinced these people to give up lifetime job security, a permanent salary, and enhanced retirement benefits in return for diminished retirement incomes and guaranteed low-cost health care," Chandra said in a press release. "But instead of keeping faith with their retirees, the Journal began cutting away the health-care safety net that they had been contractually guaranteed."
Karen Lefton, the lawyer representing the Beacon Journal, disagreed. She said her client will be fully exonerated.
"The Beacon Journal works very hard to make sure it is in compliance with all its collective bargaining agreements and with all of its legal obligations," she said.
In addition to the Whites, of Venice, Fla., plaintiffs include Hugh and Sharon Downing of The Villages, Fla., and Ruth and Thomas West of Rittman, as well as the Communications Workers of America, Local 14514.
The retirees left the newspaper between 1987 and 2001, according to the suit -- a time when it was owned by Knight Ridder Inc. Chandra said they didn't have problems with their former employer honoring the contract until 2006, after Canadian publishing giant David Holmes Black became owner.
The plaintiffs are individually suing Black as well as Edward R. Moss, former Beacon Journal publisher, and Aaron Burr, the paper's human resources director, whom the suit says "breached fiduciary duties owed to class members."
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I asked Connie to email me an update on her life since the BJ, which wasn’t that long ago for Connie. Here it is:
I have a working studio in the artsy Northside district of downtown Akron, next door to Luigi’s. Facing Luigi’s, you find four doors off the sidewalk in a row. One of them is for Red Light Galleries (111 N. Main Street, Akron).
Up the stairs, I am the third door on the right in the historic bordello building few people notice. That's where I create, with the help of the "girls." (Editor’s note: That would be the spirits of the former bordello professionals.) The studio is open to visitors whenever I am there, usually in the daytime, but we get little random traffic. I ask people to call ahead – (330) 472-0161 -- so they aren't disappointed if I'm not there.
I am on the monthly Art Walk, first Saturday of every month from 6-10 p.m.
I have been winning awards at local festivals, done some one-woman shows and given talks at local galleries and other organizations. I won second place for art excellence at Kent Art in the Park. There were 90 artists in contention, so that is a big deal for me. Kent is a fairly prestigious festival with a very high national ranking.
In short, this validates the scary big step I took by leaving the paper last year. I did the right thing. This change of career has blessed me in a million different ways.
The funny thing is I thought I would have more time, but far from it, I am running from early morning to late at night. I have a lineup of commissions that will keep me busy for the next year. I also teach a number of adult students seeking their muse.
My husband's name is Bob Shields. We have been together about 10 years and were married in September 2008. I kept my professional name. Bob is an affable guy with a heart of gold, very supportive of my work. He calls himself my roadie.
It was wonderful meeting you again John. I have many fond memories of our working together.
Connie doesn’t mention it, but one of her commissions is a $5,000 project. Most of her art, of course, is in the three-figure range. One of Connie’s fabric art works that interested me, and most BJ folks, I would think, is the one she did in 2008 for BJ reporter Kim McMahan, a memorial for Kim’s late daughter Brooke McMahan. Connie uses clothing, jewelry and other items of the deceased and talks to a survivor to get a feel for the spirit and personality of the person being memorialized in fabric art.
On a happier note, Connie also uses toys, clothes and other childhood items to do fabric art of family members who have grown into adults.
In line with her BJ column about pets, Connie does fabric art on dogs and cats, including Connie’s own dog, Emily. Llamas, too, which you can see in a Peninsula business.
You can email Connie at
Click on the headline to see photos of Connie, her fabric art including the Brooke McMahan memorial and Connie’s business cards.
Friday, September 11, 2009
I found an August 2005 BJ Alums item that detailed, with photos, a 1977 farewell party for Ann Moritz, former assistant editor in the Metro and Lifestyle departments, who was leaving for the Boston Globe. The late Pat Englehart, who previously was the legendary State Desk editor, was identified in the photo as the Projects Editor. Harry, who had gone from assistant State Desk editor to assistant Metro Editor by then; reporter John Dunphy, currently with the Orange County (California) Register; and Don Bandy, rewrite man superb who is living out his retirement in Bradenton, Florida, also were in the photo.
I relished Gareri's spaghetti and meatballs. I have even fonder memories of Harry Liggett and I ringing out the old year and ringing in the new during our New Year's Eve work break with a beer (me) and a boilermaker (Harry), who dropped his filled shot glass into his beer. It was an annual ritual.
Just some food for thought.
Click on the headline for Mrs. Gareri's obituary.
If you want to add your memories of Gareri's, click on "Comments" and type away. Share your recall plate with the rest of us.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Former Beacon Journal consumer news and lifestyle reporter Pat Ravenscraft Snyder laughs all the way to the bank as she teaches others to do the same thing. Pat is a lawyer, columnist/humorist, speaker and registered laugh leader. Honest.
Pat has been writing a humor column, "Balancing Act," for nearly a decade for Suburban News Publications in Columbus. The publisher of the 22-newspaper group is former BJ business editor Jim Toms. Pat’s column also is available to subscribers online, on the air and to print media outside the Columbus area.
Pat offers workshops, speeches and laugh-ins, tailoring stress relief programs for lawyers, sandwich generation caregivers and stepfamily members. Last year Pat became a certified laughter leader through the World Laughter Tour. See, I told you. Check it out at
Human Resources Association of Central Ohio member Pat offers lunch-and-learn programs on laughter and stress relief. Her appearance schedule is loaded through December. Some are sold out.
Somewhere along the way, Pat also got into hang-gliding. Busy and interesting woman, huh?
Now that she’s retired from practicing law for a few years, Pat found time to write her first book, "The Dog Ate My Planner: Tales and Tips from an Overbooked Life" (Two Harbors Press, Minneapolis), based on the "dog" that creates time management difficulties in her humor columns. The book will be launched Sunday, Sept. 13 at Espresso Yourself Music Cafe, 50 W. Olentangy Street, Powell, OH. The previous location had to be scrubbed when the RSVPs became an avalanche. Kickoff guests include World Laughter Tour founder Steve Wilson.
To buy Pat’s book, go to:
Other web sites are
for additional information about the book.
for Pat’s web site.
And for the dog, believe it or not, two places to check: On Twitter at
and on the dog’s Facebook Fan Page (you read it right) at
As Pat explains, it's not really a "dog." But you knew that. The "dog," Pat says, "is all the stuff that interferes with our lives -- electronic devices, food, fashion, etc. -- rather than being a dog that handles time management in my humor columns. The Dog is now advising folks on time management via Twitter, however."
Pat was married to long-time Plain Dealer reporter and editor Bob Snyder, who died from diabetes complications in May. Bob and Pat once co-authored a Sunday PD column on the challenges of stepfamily living, in their case combining Bob’s Hanukkah traditions with her Christmas ones. They published their experiences in “Cup of Comfort for Christmas” (available in bookstores during the holidays and on Amazon.com).
Pat became a grandmother for the first time this year with the arrival of Taylor Joy, born to her son James Ravenscraft and his wife, Tracy, who live in Columbus, where James has a construction company, Exterior Accents. Another son, Paul Ravenscraft, who lives with wife Shelly in Tempe, Arizona, is admissions director for Copper Canyon Academy, a private therapeutic girls boarding school in Rimrock, Arizona. Daughter Sarah Snyder is a senior majoring in psychology and minoring in integrative wellness at Ohio State.
For photos of Pat, Bob, Taylor Joy and, of course, the dog (on the book cover), plus a copy of Pat’s appearance schedule through December in case you’re in the Columbus area and want to see her, click on the headline.
Incidentally, Mark Ravenscraft, 62, Pat’s former husband who was in Akron and Summit County politics for 17 years, switched to Florida where he has spent 20 years in politics, state bureaucracy and business. You can check Mark out at
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Terry was an outstanding reporter at the Beacon Journal for about two decades, and for several years less than that at the Plain Dealer, mainly in the PD's Medina bureau. Terry, in a way that only Terry can do it, unfurled funny tales of dealing with politicians, charlatans, colleagues and news sources. His companions happily provided the deep-down laughter.
Terry and his wife are down to one child, a 17-year-old, at home. Two others set out on their own in Cuyahoga County cities. Terry is enjoying his retirement at the Oblander home in the city of Medina. He still creates puzzles, as he did at the BJ and at the PD. When Terry looks at words he sees anagrams that spell different words.
Enjoying Terry's humor at the monthly BJ Alums lunch bunch gathering on Akron-Peninsula Road and Portage Trail Extension were retired printers Cal Deshong, Gene McClelland, Carl Nelson and Al Hunsicker and former BJ newsroom guys Tim Hayes, Tom Moore and John Olesky.
Click on the headline to see photos of the happy campers.
But the end of the Knight legend isn't the end of the story. Jacoway, a part-time instructor at U. of A., has produced, written and directed a documentary, “Final Edition: Journalism According to Jack and Jim Knight,” which will premiere at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, in the Akron-Summit County Public Library auditorium, 60 S. High Street. A discussion and reception will follow the showing. All of the events and parking in the adjoining deck after 6 p.m. are free and open to the public.
The premiere date is significant: It's the birthday of the late John "Jack" Knight in Bluefield, West Virginia. He came to Ohio, as so many West Virginians have over the decades, when he was 3 years old.
Jacoway expanded his project, originally titled "The Times of John S. Knight," to include both JSK and his brother, Jim. The brothers also founded the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a charity based in Miami, Florida.
Jacoway's co-producer is Kathleen Endres, communications professor at the University of Akron. Akron deputy mayor David Lieberth narrates the film, which includes interviews with former BJ columnist and writing coach Abe Zaidan, BJ editorial page editor Michael Douglas, BJ Editor Bruce Winges and Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibarguen.
Teachers who want to involve their students may contact Jacoway at
or by phoning (330) 374-0237.
The documentary was underwritten by a grant from the Ohio Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Monday, September 07, 2009
The mailing address for Stanislaus National Forest is 19777 Greenley Road, Sonora, CA 95370
Said Mike, enjoying his new career at age 58, in a June 2009 BJ Alums post:
"It's a great job. I love it out here."
If you want to read the announcement about Mike's performance, goes to
In case you missed the photos of Mike's farewell party from the BJ, go to
Among Mike's duties at the BJ were Features Editor, Public Editor (ombudsman for the readers), running the BJ's online Ohio.com web site, Design Editor and, for a brief time, wine columnist.
My thanks to Mark Dawidziak, who does a great author/humorist, too (Mark Twain) for finding the YouTube video of Mike doing Bret Harte.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Abe dripped with nostalgia, not his normal mode.
To read it for yourself, click on the headline and scroll down to the item labeled
I did go home again
Fair warning: If you're a diehard conservative you might want to close your eyes to avoid Abe's political musings.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
The research is long, complicated and maybe boring to some, but you can click on the headline to check it out for yourself.
In another story, newspaper closings proved most damaging in smaller towns. Folks there have less access to the Internet, and even the Internet doesn't cover the local news and politicians' misbehavior as well. And often doesn't have the financial resources to challenge public documents that officials withhold unless there's a lawsuit.
for the details.
Another startling statistic: A century ago, 689 cities in the United States had competing daily newspapers. Today? About a dozen cities.
Forty-seven newspapers have closed their doors since 1990. Another five were swallowed in mergers with more viable competitors.
for the American Journalism Review story.
Here's a list of the newspapers that closed or merged. Read 'em and weep.
Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock
Evening Sun, Baltimore
Baton Rouge State-Times
Brooksville Daily Sun Journal, Florida
Coatesville Daily Record, Pennsylvania
Columbia News, Pennsylvania
Daily Independent, Conway, New Hampshire
Daily Journal, Elizabeth, New Jersey
Daily News, Alamosa, Colorado
Daily News, Camarillo, California
Dallas Times Herald
Evening Bulletin, Providence
Evening Express, Portland, Maine
Evening Sentinel, Ansonia, Connecticut
Fort Lauderdale News
Geauga Times Leader, Chardon, Ohio
Gwinnett Daily News, Georgia
Herald, Augusta, Georgia
Hollywood Sun, Florida
Hudson Dispatch, Union City, New Jersey
Kansas City Times, Missouri
Lawton Evening Constitution, Oklahoma
Manchester Herald, Connecticut
New York Newsday
New York City Tribune
Newburgh Hudson Valley News, New York
Oregon City Enterprise-Courier, Oregon
Peninsula Times Tribune, Palo Alto
Press Courier, Oxnard, California
Press, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Richmond News Leader
Roanoke Times & World News
St. Louis Sun
San Antonio Light
San Diego Tribune
Santa Paula Chronicle, California
Shenandoah Evening Sentinel, Iowa
The National (sports)
Times-Herald, Newport News
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (from Milwaukee Sentinel and Milwaukee Journal)
Montgomery Advertiser(from Montgomery Advertiser and Alabama Journal)
Morning News of Northwest Arkansas
Springdale(from Morning News and NorthWest Arkansas Morning News)
Wyoming Tribune-Eagle Cheyenne (from Wyoming Tribune and Wyoming Eagle)
Freedom’s debt will be cut from $770 million plus to $325 million.
Banks will take over from the Hoiles family, which has owned the flagship Register since 1935 and grew the company to 33 dailies, 70 weeklies and other publications, and eight television stations.
The timing of the filing stopped Freedom's payment on a $28.9 million class action settlement with the Register’s carriers over whether they were properly classified as independent contractors.
The Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times, filed for bankruptcy last December followed in February by the owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News. The Rocky Mountain News in Denver closed Feb. 27.
Click on the headline to read the full story of the Freedom Chapter 11 filing.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Today Marge lives in the Elks National Home in Bedford, Virginia. She keeps busy with golf, bowling and bridge.
And keeping track of her children's activities. Son Peter, once a producer for ABC Sports, is an avid marathon runner. Mary Pat is married to an architect. Andrew is a lawyer and a civil engineer with a dozen or two people working for him. Phillip has a doctorate and is in Kansas City, Missouri.
You can drop Marge a card or letter at
Elks National Home
931 Ashland Avenue
Bedford, VA 24523
If you want Marge's phone number in her apartment, call me at (330) 388-4466.
The Elks have operated the retirement complex -- "not a nursing home," Marge says -- since 1903 after the civic organization bought the bankrupt Bedford Hotel. The 200-acre Elks Home is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains on U.S. 460, between Roanoke and Lynchburg. Visitors take I-81 to exit 150A onto U.S. 460.
There has been a Bedford Community Theatre on the Elks grounds since 1976.
To see a photo of the Engleharts and the Oleskys at the Soap Box Derby, click on the headline. We were in John S. Knight's box, but we had to buy the seats.
It once was commonplace for newspapers to sue to get at public records. Now that they don't nearly as often, who will bring this information to the public?
To read about this problem that finances cause to the public's right to know, click on the headline.