Saturday, July 4, 2009

Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Memo from Kevin Keane


I had always held out hope that business would bounce back quickly enough that we would be able to avoid further staff reductions this fiscal year. Unfortunately whatever rebound there is in this economy hasn't reached the advertising market yet. We project revenues will continue their skid well into next year, which means expenses will need to come down accordingly.

Today we're announcing that we will be eliminating 18 full-time positions in the newsroom (managers and rank and file employees) by mid summer. We will notify the union today as well. Employees let go will receive a week's salary for each year worked, with a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of 12. The company will also pay the employer portion of Cobra benefits for health care for three months.

It goes without saying that this deep a cut on top of previous reductions will have a lasting impact on our newspapers and Web sites. Our preference would be to hold staffing at its current level until the revenue bottomed out, but we can't delay if we're to get through this downturn.

Before we finalize these cuts, however, we're asking for volunteers to step forward. These volunteers will receive an additional severance of up to eight weeks salary on top of the severance mentioned above - one week's pay for each year worked, up to eight years. Under the volunteer program, a 12-year employee would receive the maximum 20-week severance.

Management reserves the right to accept or reject a voluntary offer, depending on how vital a position is to the news organization. Every accepted offer brings down the involuntary layoff number by one. If we accept 18 volunteers, we'll eliminate the need for the layoff altogether. Anyone interested in the voluntary program should contact Belinda Byrd in HR by Wednesday, July 8 at 5 p.m.

Any questions, feel free to drop me a line.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Memo from LANG

July 1, 2009

In April we announced that LANG would be suspending the accrual of vacation benefits. This measure was taken in an effort to further reduce our operating expenses. That announcement stated that the vacation accrual suspension would be in effect until July 4, 2009.

While we have made progress, we continue to realize a decline in revenue. Subsequently, it has become necessary for us to extend the suspension of vacation benefits accrual through September 26, 2009 (the first quarter of the 2010 fiscal year), at which time we will re-evaluate our situation. In addition to this extension, we are requiring all employees to do one of the following: take five days of paid vacation by September 26, OR take five days of unpaid furlough by September 26. Below is a breakdown of what this means to most of you:
  • For those with 40 or more hours in their vacation bank, simply take a week of vacation. Because we are heading into the summer months when most people utilize their vacation time, this option should prove to have little or no impact on the majority of employees.

  • For those with less than 40 hours in their vacation bank, you can do a combination of both options. An example for a full-time employee who works 40 hours per week; you have 24 hours accrued vacation, you can use your three vacation days PLUS take two unpaid furlough days to equal the total five-day requirement.

  • For those with little or no vacation hours in their vacation bank, you will need to take unpaid furlough equaling five days. Non-exempt employees have the option of spreading their furlough days over several pay periods or they may take all of the time off within a one-week period. It is up to you, but the time must be taken by September 26.

  • Exempt employees who do not have the equivalent of five days’ vacation in their vacation bank do not have the option of combining vacation with furlough. If you are exempt, and do not have at least one week of vacation, you must take a week of furlough. Your week of furlough must be taken at one time (all within the same week), and you cannot perform any work during that week. This requirement may not apply to some sales positions, so if you are in advertising sales, please see your manager for guidance.
  • We regret the need to implement these changes in order to meet our financial challenges. It is our belief that this is the least painful way to work towards regaining our financial footing, while allowing us to mitigate mandated furloughs for most employees or, far worse, reducing staffing levels (layoffs).

    If you have questions or need to further discuss how this pertains to you specifically, please see your manager, department head, or human resources department.

    Thank you for your understanding. Your hard work and dedication have been instrumental in weathering this economic storm.

    Memo from Bob Dickey

    To: U.S. Community Publishing Employees
    From: Bob Dickey

    I want to talk with you about our restructuring efforts, as we continue to battle these difficult economic conditions and the impact on our advertisers. With your help, our various cost savings initiatives are making a difference.

    Nevertheless, we will need to implement job reductions to align our resources with the revenue realities we face. Currently each location is finalizing its plan, taking into consideration the local economy, results so far this year and the prospects going forward.

    Each plan is different and designed to address the ongoing local needs. All of them, however, involved extremely difficult decisions. Approximately 1400 employees will be impacted by the job reductions across the division. Your publisher or general manager will communicate the local plans, and we expect the vast majority of the reductions will take place by July 9. In a select few cases, the implementation may take longer. There will not be any furloughs for the rest of the year.

    I want to stress that the job reductions are not a reflection on these employees or their work. We truly value their many contributions and thank them for their efforts over the years.

    Unfortunately, we must take these steps because the advertising environment remains challenged. There have been some promising signs of a recovery, but the reality is the improvements are not broad-based and the economy continues to be fragile.

    Even so, we know the economy will improve. To be ready, we need to continue our transformation and maintain a strong financial position. We must publish our newspapers, produce our Web sites and pay down our debt. By taking all these steps today, we will be stronger tomorrow.

    Measured against our peers in the media industry, we are healthy and capable of moving forward. We are in this position because we have proactively responded to the financial conditions with actions such as these.

    We continue to see good ideas coming from all of you, and we are becoming more innovative everyday. This combination of forward thinking and good fiscal management will, I believe, ultimately result in a return to success for our company.

    So, please keep those thoughts and ideas coming. As always, you can email me or call with your comments.