By Ralph Cipriano
It was just another day at the Inky.
The associate publisher jumped out the window.
A lawyer for one group of rival owners, at the cost of at least $400 an hour, was trying to figure out who was responsible for putting Brian Tierney out to pasture.
Meanwhile, the other group of owners was offering $29 million to buy the other side out.
Is this any way to run a company?
This morning, embattled Inky Publisher Bob Hall sent out a confidential email to the newspaper's owners, notifying them that Associate Publisher Michael Lorenca just quit.
In his letter of resignation to Hall, dated Oct. 29, Lorenca wrote, "For the last several months, I have struggled under the current governance and ownership structure which has made it impossible for me to complete my duties with traditional autonomy and independence. Further, as we discussed two weeks ago, for the same reasons I no longer feel that I could be an effective publisher in this environment."
In a confidential email to the Inky's owners today, Hall wrote that "specific challenges" to Lorenca's job duties included "the leaking of confidential internal executive level discussions and decisions, breach of the non-interference pledge by a member of the ownership group, and other points contained in our October 7th email which undermined the effective of both the publisher and associate publisher."
The Oct. 7th email from Hall and Lorenca outlined the problems Hall was having with recently fired editor Bill Marimow. It was promptly leaked. In the email quoted above, when Hall talked about a "breach of the non-interference pledge by a member of the ownership group," he was talking about owner Lewis Katz, according to a source close to the situation.
"This is a regrettable consequence and unfortunate casualty of the pending litigation, as I felt Mike was an extremely hardworking, dedicated and effective leader and a valuable partner as we were trying to move our company towards a successful future," Hall wrote.
Since the Inquirer's owners started feuding, their confidential emails have been leaked on a regular basis to happy reporters all over town. Following in that tradition, Hall's confidential email was leaked hours after he wrote it.
For faster service Mr. Hall, please send your confidential emails directly to email@example.com. Let's try and eliminate the middle men.
Also today, Robert C. Heim, a lawyer for the ownership group headed by George Norcross, received a letter from Richard A. Sprague, on behalf of rival owner Lewis Katz.
"My client, Lewis Katz, informed me that he read in today's Inquirer that the contract of Brian P. Tierney was terminated, presumably pursuant to Mr. Norcross's direction," Sprague wrote. "This was the first notice Mr. Katz received of this termination, and obviously, Mr. Katz was neither consulted before the termination was effectuated nor was his consent secured."
Tierney, a former Inky publisher, was fired Tuesday from a $25,000 a-month consulting gig after bean-counters at Interstate General Media determined that employing the chubby, bombastic spinmeister was a further waste of the company's limited resources.
If Lewis Katz read bigtrial.net, he would have found out a day earlier that Tierney got canned.
Wake up Lew, no wonder you're losing the PR battle to Norcross.
"I write to request an account by Mr. Norcross, or whoever made this decision, of the purported reasons for terminating the contract with Mr. Tierney, so that this account may be shared with my client," Sprague wrote. "Kindly ensure that I receive the requested information before the close of business on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013."
Hey Mr. Sprague, I hear it was Norcross who pulled the trigger. The same guy who told members of the Newspaper Guild that Tierney would be returning as publisher over his dead body.
Meanwhile, today, Norcross and another owner, William P. Hankowsky, announced via a press release that they were offering to pay $29 million in cash for the shares of Interstate General Media owned by Lewis Katz and Gerry Lenfest "in order to end the current dispute between the groups and provide stability to the company."
"We did not want or initiate the litigation that has created a sideshow that will ultimately waste hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in legal fees that could be used to further strengthen and build the company," Norcross and Hankowsky wrote.
"We are offering to purchase their shares for $29 million, which represents a nearly 12 percent profit over their investment in just 18 months, not a bad return [in] this economic environment," Norcross and Hankowsky wrote. "We will wire the funds to their accounts within 24 hours of an agreement."
"It is time to end this impasse and litigation and return our focus to continuing the remarkable turnaround of the Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com," the statement concludes. "It is the right thing to do for the company, our readers, our workers and the community."
Until then, let the sideshow continue.