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Archives for October 2016

Woe is the Star

This is a quote from the SEC 10-Q statement filed in August by Lee Enterprises, owner of the Arizona Daily Star and bunch of other newspapers:

Due to our federal and state net operating loss carryforwards and based on historical levels of performance, we do not expect any significant income tax payments in the current year.

That is but a symptom of the problems at the Star. No taxes mean no profit. No profit means revenue decreases and the need for more cuts.

Here are the circulation totals for the Star as reported in the company’s 2015 annual 10k SEC filing along with population numbers for Pima County. The first number is daily circulation, the second is Sunday and the third number is county population.

                               Daily           Sunday     County   

2006                   104,731      156,694     975,476

2012                    82,305       133,558     992,395

2015                    57,735        102,595    1,010,025

Daily circulation has decreased by about half and Sunday circulation by a third. Meanwhile the county’s population has increased by a modest 3.5 percent. Thus the Star reaches about 6 percent of the population on weekdays and a little more than 10 percent on Sundays. It’s likely the next 10k will show greater circulation losses. Lee’s August filing reported a decrease in circulation revenue. It’s impressive that the Star still attracts advertising.

It is sheer speculation but there may come a time when Lee finally gives up and sells its 50 percent to Gannett, thereby allowing the Arizona Republic to publish a Tucson edition.

The Republic, mirabile dictu, still has news.


The Star’s stinky hed

The Sunday Star’s lede story was about some guy who proposes to use wastewater to make beer. The “eww” is an attempt to be cute. But it doesn’t work. Nor does the lead picture of aimg_1726 lung transplant patient. The hed is lousy and the picture is less than mediocre. But the issue is this: The most important election in my memory is but a bit more than a week. That is not as important as some guy trying to make dirty water into beer? Election stories are below the fold.

BTW, we wonder if the Star will endorse anyone for president of the United States. Probably not. Such a controversy might scare off readers and advertisers. After all, many still think of it as the Red Star.

Judging by the 40-page basketball section, the most likely endorsement will be for Coach Miller.


Anybody notice that besides being the nation’s most famous sexual predator, Donald John Trump gasps for air? Or he has a serious sinus problem. Either way, my grandfather would have accurately described him as a suck-egg mule.

Hee, hee, ho, ho, heeee, heeee

The (pitiful) Mayor and Council propose to ask the voters to approve a financial package upwards of $100 million to finance street improvements.

The City Fathers and Mothers reportedly intend to ask taxpayers to approve an additional sales tax and a secondary property tax to pay for the Big Fix. If these be wise stewards of the public purse, then we shall henceforth expect the sun to rise in the West, set in the East and Donald Trump to speak the Truth.

And taxpayers will vote to give them the money.

Bumpy roads

This last weekend as I was driving down Country Club, I tried to remember if it ever was smooth.

Did it ever feel like a Phoenix street? You know, smooth, rut-free and unholely?

I could not remember. Still can’t. Not since I first came to this burg in 1967, nearly a half century ago, has Country Club Road ever been free of ruts, holes and gaping cracks. It is a street designed to ruin tires, misalign front ends and bend axels. This is the nature of Tucson streets. They are abysmal. 

They are so bad that when you find a stretch like the 300 or so yards on Ft. Lowell running east of Swan, you are stunned. The road is glass. Makes you giddy with delight. How did it come about? Who did this? Why not more?

Tis the season of promises. At least one of the candidates for the board of supervisors promises to fix our streets. She’s an incumbent so why make the promise now when she has had four years to fix them up? This does not inspire confidence. Makes me a teensy-weensy cynical.

Actually, none of Tucson’s governance inspires much confidence. The streets have been terrible for 50 years. The city is pretty much useless when it comes to street maintenance and the county isn’t a whole lot better. But we continue to elect candidates who make empty promises about fixing something as basic as a city street. But they can’t. Sometimes they say it’s because of our extreme temperatures and such. But how do they explain the fact that Phoenix to the north is able to maintain its streets?

Fact is, the entire network of streets in Tucson amounts to pile of horse pucky. And no one seems to be accountable, not the Mayor and Council, which is about as useful as a buggy whip. The board of supervisors is about the same if just a smidge better.

Amazing how tolerant we are. We are resigned. And jaded. Don’t think the Sups or the bumbling Mayor & Co. could pass a 5-cent bond issue. Makes it nasty circle. Government won’t/can’t fix streets and the voters refuse to give the money against so many broken promises.

Seems like a leadership problem.