Register Publishes Salaries of Educators; But Remember Those Executive Bonuses?

The Orange County Register published the compensation of public school administrators, teachers and classified employees in its edition on Sunday.  So if you’re dying to know how much your kid’s school principal makes or how much/how little a teacher earns, it’s provided for you at “a public service.”

The paper takes great pains to expose those earning six figure salaries in “public education,” as those today’s frugal taxpayer would be/should be outraged at how much “government” school employees and managers make.

As a parent who cares about education, I want my children’s teachers paid well and well paid.  I want the school administrators who stay up to date on the latest techniques and information to be paid well and well paid.  I want my kids, and your kids, to have the best resources available to give them a world-class education so they can succeed in tomorrow’s global economy.  Teachers can inspire.  Education is an investment.  And if we can offer a compensation package to attract the best and brightest to inspire our kids to achieve things beyond the reach of an average education, it’s money well spent with a fantastic ROI.

At IUSD schools, we struggle with education-per-pupil funding well below the state average and have had no relief for parents of IUSD students due to piss-poor representation in Sacramento in the state assembly and in the state senate for years.  In spite of the funding shortfall, IPSF and parents who care about education pay a premium for fundrasiers and contributions to augment IUSD’s shortfall.  The city of Irvine gives nearly $5 million a year in services and cash that would otherwise have to be covered by the district (try that in Santa Ana or Costa Mesa or Laguna Beach).

So least we forget, about a year ago, Freedom Communications was in a world of financial hurt.  Pages were being cut, layoffs and buyouts were happening, and the price of the local newspaper, the Orange County Register, tripled from a quarter in 1997 to 75 cents today.  And you know what?  Senior executives at Freedom richly rewarded themselves using an argument of the bonuses were needed to retain management talent.

Freedom isn’t publicly traded but, to use the Register’s own words, we’re offering these links  as a public service that anyone using Google who was taught to read and comprehend by a public school teacher can ascertain for themselves whether it’s smart to pay bonuses to the captains of what was a sinking ship.  Or does your internal BS detector go off?  For example, there’s this story that ran in the Register itself. 

From the story: “But Judge Brendan Shannon left open whether Freedom Chief Financial Officer Mark McEachen will be able to collect an estimated $300,000 in bonuses over and above the $100,000 he would get under the executive bonus plan. The extra compensation is included in his employment contract.

Shannon agreed with the unsecured creditors committee that Freedom, the parent company of The Orange County Register, cannot continue to pay severance to employees who were laid off before the Sept. 1 bankruptcy petition was filed and are still receiving payments. That ruling may be revisited, however, as the judge gave lawyers for Freedom time to make an additional argument on that point.

A Register official confirmed that some Register employees who were laid off are still getting severance payments. The paper declined to say how many people are getting such these payments.

In approving the bonus plans and severance for employees laid off in the future, Shannon said he is satisfied that “the proposed payments are justified by the facts and circumstances of the case” and that there is “substantial risk that the company would be harmed without these programs.’’

The creditors committee had opposed the paying of these bonuses saying it was a plan to reward just 50 of the more than 3,000 company employees and not the top to bottom companywide program that Freedom portrayed it to be.

Committee lawyer Robert Feinstein said this bonus program is all about rewarding some “high-end” executives.

McEachen testified that the company has already lost – through layoffs and voluntary departures – valuable employees. He believes more would go if the bonus and severance programs were halted.

Without these executives, McEachen said, “it is my opinion the company won’t make it.’’

…..

And there’s this story that shows how many Freedom executives got MBO bonuses.

From the story:  “The (MBO bonus) program paid out more than $3.7 million to Freedom’s top executives during the past year, not to mention other expenses such as partner distributions, automobile reimbursements, club memberships and, for at least one executive, housing allowances, according to federal bankruptcy filings.

At least 49 Freedom executives, including publishers at various newspapers across the country, dipped into the MBO bonus program during the 12 months leading up to the company’s bankruptcy filing in September.

Freedom CEO Scott Flanders received two MBO payments totaling more than $1.1 million during that time, including a $400,000 bonus only weeks before the company filed bankruptcy. Others, such as Orange County Register Publisher Terry Horne and Community Newspapers Division President Jonathan Segal, received bonuses totaling six-figures.

Horne, who was publisher of the East Valley Tribune for a short time before heading up the Register, received roughly $200,000. Segal, who was in charge of the division that included the Tribune, received approximately $189,000.”

In addition, Register editor Ken Brusic got three MBO bonuses totalling $40,000 and editorial page editor Cathy Taylor got three MBO bonuses for $35,000 in 2009 according to the story.

In 2009, Freedom Communications instituted a furlough program for all of its employees nationwide, and cut pay by 5 percent starting in July 2009.  

Seems like Freedom’s management is trying it’s best to grow revenues through subtraction.  The truth is you cannot produce quality journalism while you continue to cut staff, force furloughs, reduce the number of pages published while still handsomely rewarding senior executives more interested in “protecting their own interests” over the serving the public trust in which the Fourth Estate operates.

Now none of this comes from tax dollars, but newspapers exist to serve the public trust not just act as a vehicle to sell advertising.

Freedom is privately held and good luck getting new information on executive bonuses and compensation since 2009.  But by all means, turn those underpaid reporters who put in 60 hours a week without filing for overtime onto those greedy bastards who are educating our children. The only thing missing from the story is the general condemnation of public teacher unions.

I’m sure that’s next; just interview Don Wagner, AD-70 assemblyman-elect.

  2 comments for “Register Publishes Salaries of Educators; But Remember Those Executive Bonuses?

  1. Fox and Hounds
    November 15, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Ever since the Register’s attempt to throw the CUSD elections, I stopped reading them. I do not subscribe to the paper, I do not buy it at the newsstand, and most of all I DO NOT READ IT ONLINE!

    Starve the beast! It’s the only answer.

  2. I Agree
    November 15, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Thank you for a great article! Dan makes some excellent points in the article about the Register Newspaper. I believe it is a huge violation of our rights to publish the names of employees, where they work and their exact salary. That is not the public’s business. I understand we all need to be accountable to the taxpayers. However, the newspaper could have simply stated the average salary of an administrator, teacher or other school employee for each district. Or, perhaps even the various levels of pay. But to list each and every employee’s name, where they work, how long they have been employed, level of education, etc… that is not the business of the average citizen. If someone were making an unreasonable amount of money in comparison to other employees, that is one thing. However, from reading the article, I saw nothing that disturbed as much as those who already have high salaries and are taking in bonuses and more in the CORPORATE world. The Register needs to check out their OWN BACKYARD and leave the teachers alone!! And I also agree we need to cancel our subscriptions to the Register and refuse to read that paper until they learn to report honestly and fairly for everyone!

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