BREAKING NEWS: City of Omaha to take over bankrupt World Herald

On the heels of government bailouts and takeovers of AIG, GM and Fannie Mae, Leavenworth Street has learned that as of this Saturday, the City of Omaha will bailout and take over the embattled, and near bankrupt, Omaha World Herald newspaper.

We at Leavenworth Street, while not surprised by these events, think this is a travesty.

Nebraska’s leading daily paper has seen a dramatic decline in readership over the past year with the rise of the internets and desertion of the paper by publisher John Gottschalk.

The decline in the quality of newsworthiness of columns (following the departure of Rainbow Rowell), a poor percentage in endorsing winners in political campaigns and expanded coverage of such sports as “outdoor living” and high school girls volleyball have been clear culprits.

The paper, though privately owned, was quickly seen as “too big to fail” by the Mike Fahey administration. “If the World Herald fails, where will we get our news,” asked Fahey. “There would be no Briefly Metro News. No Lottery Results. And the Public Pulse writers would be relegated to commenting in web-blawgs. I don’t think that’s the kind of City we want to live in.

Fahey stated that the World Herald would be run by a public-private partnership, similar to MECA which runs the Qwest Center and the future Fahey Baseball Stadium. The group will be called, “Buf-Yan-Sok-Scott” and will have a board appointed by the Mayor, the Archbishop and the Berkshire Hathaway Board of Directors as well as a stenographer appointed by the City Council.

Initial funding of the board — and thereby the World Herald — is thought to be between $300 and $900 million, though projections are thought to be less depending on the fate of the Money and Living Sections. “We all have to tighten our belts. I would like a weekly recipe for paprika as much as the next taxpayer, but we have to make cuts somewhere. Funky Winkerbean will however, likely end up on the Opinion page,” said Fahey.

Fahey has also made it clear that with the takeover of the news by the City, there will be no golden parachutes for retiring executives. “I have already demanded that Stu Pospisil return the Creighton Prep Basketball Champs mug he snuck into his backpack on Tuesday. And Robert Nelson can forget about getting that Ashlander of the Year award, and the ham that goes with it. No one is going to be seen as profiting on my watch.

Omaha Mayoral candidates, one of whom will have the burden of managing the newspaper in the coming months, have also chimed in.

I hate the World Herald and the World Herald hates me,” said former Mayor and candidate Hal Daub. “That being said, I will work to de-solve and re-volve the relationship with the newspaper and the City. This will be much like the sewer separation project, in more ways than one.

Jim Vokal said, “When Hal Daub was on MECA, he let the Royals go to Sarpy County. If he is in charge of Buf-Yan-Sok-Scott, who is to say that this won’t happen again, and we end up with the Sarpy County World Herald? Under my watch, no one would be getting their news from Sarpy County — unless it is that Bellevue Leader hybird that is pretty much the same as the World Herald anyway.

Councilman Jim Suttle responded, “Do we really need to be taking over the World Herald? Why not try some other ideas? Like getting the Dalai Lama into Omaha to read the news on the radio, like Roosevelt used to do. Or we could get a town cryer, like in the days of yore. We could bring back Jimmy “J.J.” Walker, for a position like this. We need ideas. They don’t have to be good ideas, or even sensible ideas. They just have to be words coming out of my mouth, while it’s moving up and down.

It is not known what the last day of the paper will be, but it is thought that the headline will involve Nebraska football or possibly new parking near the Orpheum.

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  1. Uncle Wiggily says:

    Some of the way-inside Big O jokes went over this old Thirder’s head, but I still enjoyed it a lot.

    Thanks, Sweeper

  2. Anonymous says:

    Jim Esch announced he’s running as a write-in candidate for mayor on the Scott Vorhees show this morning — you just know that THAT is true! 😉

  3. Not a Prank says:

    “While Omaha’s property taxes declined under Daub (1995-2001), he planned to raise the tax 1.5 cents per 100 dollars of valuation had he been re-elected in 2001. The plan was an effort to keep the city’s AAA bond rating, he told The Reader.”

  4. 3rd floor watcher says:

    That is not true. Hal instituted a biennial budget process to forecast potential budget issues and plan for them to ensure a tax increase was not needed. The City departments could make cuts in advance and save the city from a tax increase in the future through 12 months of adjustments before the actual budget is passed. Hal’s own numbers in 2000 showed that 2001 could have had a tax increase if the budget stayed static.

    Hal being Hal rolled up his sleeves and then delivered on a double digit tax cut in 2001. Sorry Vokal camp. Read those documents carefully. Hal’s budget process actually saved the cit money by being forward looking.

  5. Anonymous says:

    That is true about Hal’s 2000 and 2001 budget. The council only approves the first year and looks at the second year as a forecast. It was Hal’s forward thinking that instituted thi type of budgeting.

  6. 3rd floor watcher says:

    I should have said “Hal is a competent manager and uses multi-year budgeting”. Unlike the Bald-Wonder that has no management experience, Hal actually ran the city efficiently and lowered property taxes. Spin it all you want.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, the Vokal Campaign convinced The Reader to write a story about Hal Daub planning to raise taxes. Good one!

  8. Anonymous says:

    The Reader is your source for news…lol…after smoking what? That story in the Reader is inaccurate and patently false.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Oh come on, The Reader fact checks everything and only prints the truth. Remember the photoshopped picture of Congressman Terry in front of the gas station with $4 gas?

    Why in the hell would anyone get their news or their voting information from the weekly reader?!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Ohhhhhh “Sweeper – you go boy go”

    Seems like alot of people (jealous)guys got down on you… but don’t let it bother you… just take it for what it is worth…idiots…

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