Archive for the ‘Employees’ category

Electrifying News from Dolan’s Pubs


Here are a few interesting stories our reporters have picked up the past day or two….

Portland’s one of those towns with some tasty microbrews. In fact, its unofficial nickname is “beertopia.” Today we learn from the DJC’s Libby Tucker that three local breweries are investing–a lot–in energy conservation schemes, including recovery of the intense heat from the brewing process and using biodiesel instead of natural gas to run the boilers. Breweries are “big, dirty behemoths,” one brewmaster is quoted as saying…..

If you’re in Idaho, here’s a name to start remembering: Gateway West. That’s what Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power Co. call a 650-mile power line project they announced Monday, according to IBR. Conservation groups are worried, and ratepayers won’t like the effect on electricity bills. But utility officials say the rolling blackouts Idaho almost experienced last summer could loom again unless this new capacity comes on line….

FedEx was confused by the EEOC’s allegedly inconsistent way of notifying the company whether an employee has charged discrimination or not. So they filed suit. Today the case was argued before the Supreme Court, and from DC Dicta’s report, it sounds like the justices were not just confused, but annoyed….

This can’t be good. The Daily Record’s Jackie Sauter was out on the streets of Baltimore with a photographer and came upon a smattering of snow-like particles. Thanks to some construction workers, a building is shedding white foam, and the breeze is distributing it on the city’s west side. Some of the stuff attached itself to Jackie’s clothes. Where else is it going?

novint-falcon.jpgAnd can you guess what this is?→→→→

Go to LI Biz Blog to find out. A company in Port Washington, N.Y. firm makes markets them, and pretty soon, everyone will want one…..


The Circle of Life On Dolan Media


If it helps the state of Louisiana to give a tax break for shopping, for movie tickets, and for theatrical productions, our blogger in New Orleans, Deon Roberts wants to know why not give a tax break to the real drivers of the Crescent City’s post-Katrina recovery — the people who decided to come back and have kids. Like, say, Deon Roberts, a new daddy:

According to an Oct. 17 report by the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, the population of the six-parish metro area is at 86 percent of the pre-K figure. The population as of September is 450,830 compared with 524,317 in July 2005.

Without people, there is no economy: There is nobody to make goods and nobody to sell goods. That is Economics 101.

Having children is not cheap, especially in the New Orleans area, where many parents send their children to costly private schools to avoid the public school system. So a tax break for us new parents would be helpful.

Perhaps the state could grant the break on our income tax returns. Perhaps new parents could be allowed to pay half what they would normally pay in state income taxes for, say, five years. Or maybe parishes could freeze property tax assessments for new parents until their children turn 18. There could be a requirement that families who use the break must stay in the state for a certain number of years.

Deon might seem like an interested party, but he’s not driving a very hard bargain. He says he’s in Louisiana to stay, regardless….

Long Island is another place that’s trying to hang onto its up-and-comers…. Housing prices are the culprit in LI losing “the war for talent….”

DC Dicta’s Kimberly Atkins reports that two young attorneys — both tabbed last month by Lawyers USA as Up & Coming Lawyers — faced off before the U.S. Supreme Court today, one of them wearing coattails in a nod to tradition….

Atkins also notes the passing of the much-admired law prof Dr. Clark Byse, the model for Professor Kingsfield in Scott Turow’s “The Paper Chase.” Byse taught at Harvard, Columbia and Boston U., where Atkins was one of his students….

Meanwhile, the New Orleans World Trade Center plays host this week to a delegation from South Africa, looking to establish trade ties and “a steppingstone to conduct business in Africa.” Actor Louis Gossett, Jr. is one of the panelists….

In Idaho, worries that anti-immigration politics will hurt small business….

In Minnesota, even the undead are entitled to justice….

Martin Frankel, the man who conned $200 million from seven life insurance agencies, used some of that money for jewelry. The insurance commissioners of Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee tried selling some of his swag on eBay…a diamond necklace, some diamond earrings, a sapphire-and-diamond ring and a diamond-encrusted Cartier watch….

Only the Cartier watch sold, for $3,000…. It had been appraised at $4,000….

Duel In The Sand, Gone With the Wind


Some gritty Dolan Media highlights for a Monday morning…

Despite recent passage of a new state law, anti-immigrant activists and business interests that benefit from immigrant labor are both turning to the ballot box to get their preferred fix, according to the Arizona Capitol Times’ Jim Small.

Neither measure has qualified yet, but a war of words has begun.

“In comparison to the other initiative and the law that’s already passed, my initiative will be the toughest employer sanctions law the Constitution allows,” said Andrew Pacheco, chairman of the Stop Illegal Hiring campaign committee.

However, critics say Pacheco’s measure is designed to protect the interests of the business community, which hires illegal immigrants at cheaper wages to maximize profits.

“They want to change nothing,” (State Representative Russell) Pearce, R-18, said. “They want to continue to hire with impunity.”

Don Goldwater, a former gubernatorial candidate and another advocate of a tougher employee sanction bill said the move by business will force him to redouble his efforts to get the Legal Arizona Workers Act on the ballot. According to Small,

many had hoped Goldwater’s group would refrain from actually putting its initiative on the ballot if the state law was enforced to their liking, the chances of that happening now are zilch.

“There is no chance in heck we can drop our initiative now,” Goldwater said.

kk-river-cleanup-crop.jpgWisconsin’s Kinnickinnic River is one dirty, filthy toxic river, according to Sean Ryan of the Daily Reporter. Salmon swim up it to spawn — and then die. There are islands made of shopping carts and bowling balls. But now what locals call the KK is getting cleaned up, due to the combined efforts of developers who want to build waterfront condos, environmental groups, and Milwaukee municipal agencies. If federal money can be found, the river will be dredged, and a stretch of concrete bottom might be removed….

After four years, the Long Island Power Authority will apparently shelve plans for a wind energy facility. Now Delaware wants to build one, and some say they should study what Long Island did — and do the opposite. Details in LI Biz Blog….

A judge in Maryland thinks it’s possible a woman consented to being slugged by her husband at a gas station. So he dismissed the case against her. Details here….

Despite assurances to the contrary, the new South Waterfront neighborhood in Portland, Oregon is “make-sure-you’re-wearing-your-good-underwear-windy,”says DJC blogger Alison Ryan….

The Torre Example


The New York Yankees’ graceless firing of Joe Torre today struck me as a cluster of classic PR mistakes organizations so often make — substituting talking points for common sense, “thinking outside the box” without first looking in the box for a more time-tested approach, and believing one’s own spin.

The Yankees fired him passive-aggressively. They offered him his job back, but at a lower salary, with additional money and a contract extension only if the team won a championship. Get a load of this:

“Under this offer, he would continue to be the highest-paid manager in major league baseball,” team president Randy Levine said. “We thought that we need to go to a performance-based model, having nothing to do with Joe Torre’s character, integrity or ability. We just think it’s important to motivate people.”

Really. So is this a change of policy for the Yankees? Performance-based payment to the manager? Is Levine saying the next Yankee manager and all future Yankee managers will have to accept a “performance-based model” for their contracts?

If so, should the manager be able to sue the team’s general manager if he refuses to make a trade to improve the team? Because Torre was only offered one year, he would have an incentive to lobby the GM to bring as many good players to the team in 2008 as possible — and trade all the prospects if it’s necessary to get them.

What if he’d said “Yes?” There could be nothing more uncomfortable than presenting an employee with a job offer you hope he or she doesn’t take.

Plus, what an insult to Torre’s professionalism to suggest he needs “motivation” to get the Yankees into the World Series. He got them there seven of his twelve seasons, and got them into the post-season every year. Do they really think he needs a monetary motivation at this point in his career?

Why, oh why didn’t the Yankees do what always works in this situation? Fire him if they must — almost every manager gets fired — but respect him in the process. In decades past, the Yanks kept all their old managers on the payroll, and sometimes would bring them back.

Torre brought unprecedented stability and success to the George Steinbrenner-owned Yankees. Only two other managers in Yankee history held the job for so long, Casey Stengel and Joe McCarthy. Stengel, too, was fired, despite having won 10 American League pennants and 7 World Series.

Torre said last week that his “12 years just felt like they were 10 minutes long.”

But if you look at the world of 12 years ago, it’s amazing how much has actually changed. When Joe Torre became Yankee manager in 1996:

  • There were no DVDs.
  • Java had just been released. Java 1.0
  • Osama Bin Laden had yet to declare war on America.
  • Dean Witter and Morgan Stanley were two separate companies.
  • Tony Blair was not yet Prime Minister of England.
  • There was no such thing as Fox News.
  • There was no such thing as the Kyoto Protocol.
  • There was no such thing as Viagra.
  • The Bulls were the best team in the NBA; the Cowboys in the NFL.
  • Tiger Woods was still an amateur.
  • A computer had never beaten a grand chess master.
  • There was no iPod, and Apple was not in good financial shape.
  • No one had yet cloned a mammal.
  • Princess Diana was still alive.
  • Both Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. were still alive.
  • So were Allen Ginsburg and William S. Burroughs.
  • So were James Stewart and Robert Mitchum.
  • The term “blog” had yet to be coined.

Social Networking Beats Working


From my perch in the stratosphere…

I look down on this Monday morning and see American workers, busily sending Linked-In and Facebook invitations to each other. These networks are sprawling now, as if fueled by Red Bull and Miracle-Gro, their tendrils reaching and burrowing into the minds of once-productive employees now shaking hands and exchanging business cards in virtual reality.

From Information Week, you get the feeling it’s happening right under the noses of senior corporate executives.

Hinting at the potential of social networking at work, thousands of employees of Shell Oil, Procter & Gamble, and General Electric have Facebook accounts. A Facebook network of Citigroup employees–only those with Citigroup e-mail accounts can join–has 1,870 users. Procter & Gamble employees use Facebook to keep interns in touch and share information with co-workers attending company events.

Further evidence of Facebook’s rise among the business card crowd: People over 24 are its fastest-growing demographic.

Still, there are reasons for business and technology managers to be wary of Facebook, as well as MySpace, LinkedIn, and other social networking apps. They can sap employee productivity or, worse, be a source of governance violations or breaches of company protocol. A poll by Sophos found that 66% of workers think their colleagues share too much information on Facebook. Forrester Research recently found that 14% of companies have disciplined employees and 5% fired them for offenses related to social networking. No wonder half of companies–Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, UBS, and Lehman Brothers among them, according to Financial News–restrict access to Facebook.

The city of Toronto blocked access to social networking sites four months ago. “There’s potential for staff to spend an inordinate amount of time on sites like this,” explains a spokesman for the city. “Is it necessary for work?”

Certainly not if you consider that some of the most popular apps on Facebook include fortunetelling and comparing yourself to a celebrity. “A girl in my office and I send each other nonsense and Dane Cook quotes from 10 feet apart,” admits one Facebook user.

Wasn’t that always the point of networking? Someone you amuse with a plagiarized joke today might hook you up with a great job or new client tomorrow. All that’s changed is the setting.

Facebook is a lot more efficient than what businesspeople used to do to sell themselves. Or maybe you’ve never played golf. It takes hours, pretty much shoots the whole day. Before the Internet, golf during the week was encouraged if it meant you could warm up a customer. And what about that networking classic, carousing? Take a client to a bar, get him good and soused and then embark on a drunken adventure together. Such debauchery earned many a young exec an “attaboy.” Even though he spent most of the next day with his head on his desk.

Flipping a joke over the electronic transom might be a waste of time, but not a lot of time. Your employees might not be doing much work, but at least they’re at their desks where you can find them.