Archive (2008)

Massa Opposes Fart Tax

Eric Massa has gone on record opposing a tax on cow farts. The tax is part of a proposed EPA rule dealing with greenhouse gas emissions. According to this farm publication, the rule was more of a trial balloon than a real attempt to charge farmers.

Kuhl "Largely Inaccessible"

In addition to Randy Kuhl missing roll call votes, the Star-Gazette says that Kuhl's staff isn't returning phone calls or emails.

Temporary Rochesterturning Address

For the moment, Rochesterturning can be found here:

Update: Looks like their regular address is working now.

Kuhl MIA

Randy Kuhl, who missed only 23 votes for the entire session, didn't vote in any of the 7 House roll calls yesterday.

Massa on the Senate Seat

Eric Massa and a bunch of other Southern Tier politicians are quoted in a Star-Gazette story about speculation that Caroline Kennedy will be appointed to Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. Massa says little other than he'd like the appointee to be from upstate.

Rochesterturning Down

Rochesterturning is down and a couple of people have asked about its status. They had an issue with their hosting company and are moving hosts as we speak. They should be back online soon.

Meanwhile, In a Parallel Universe

Randy Kuhl's letter to the editor of the Wellsville Daily Reporter includes this statement:

I am proud to say that during my career I worked with you all to increase economic opportunities and jobs in the district, to balance our federal budget without tax increases, and to keep our homeland safe and free from fear.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the average deficit during the years Kuhl was in DC was $242 billion, a number that doesn't include the budget-busting spending of 2008.

D&C Publisher''s Letter

Ali Zoibi, the publisher of the Democrat & Chronicle, has an item in today's edition describing the cuts and challenges facing the D&C.

It contains this ominous line:

Look to this page tomorrow for more information on the impact of these cuts on the opinion section.

Reading between the lines, the 680 headcount that is used for the D&C is apparently total Gannett headcount in Rochester. In other words, the Insider, Conxion, MetroMix, HerRochester, RocMen, RocPets and all the other ancillary publications are part of that count.

Zoibi is also proud of the 87% "reach" of Gannett publications in the area. That means that 87 of 100 Rochesterians look at some Gannett publication online or in print at least once per week. While impressive, the number is meaningless unless Gannett is making money from that reach.

Take a look at the front pages of most of Gannett's online publications, and you'll find that much of the space is occupied by cross-promotion of other Gannett publications. Also in the mix are some local ads, yet Gannett often features national ads that are completely irrelevant to the section content, and a lot of the ad load today was charitable ads. After a decade on the Internet, Gannett's online local ad inventory is still poorly stocked, and that they haven't figured out how to target advertising on different pages.

Gannett has also built uses "Pulse 360", which is an attempt to replicate Google text ads. Google allows advertisers to purchase ads that are pushed to specific types of sites or matched to different search keywords. Google makes big money when it pushes an ad relevant to what the user is searching for, because it's only then that a user will bother to look at the ads on a page. Google also has low overhead because the advertiser uses a self-service web page to enter and purchase the ad.

Judging from the Pulse360 ads pushed on the D&C today, either Gannett has few advertisers in Pulse360 or they're unable to correlate the Pulse360 ad with the content of the page. On sports, I see the usual generic Internet junk: "teeth whitening", "lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks - no diets", and "Laser back surgery alternative".

Gannett can have 100% of our eyeballs every day but, like the rest of the newspaper industry, they're just burning electrons if they don't figure out how to deliver relevant, useful ads to their readers.

Update: Pulse 360 is not a Gannett operation. They have a major deal with Gannett, but they're an independent company. Sorry for the confusion.

Final Money Tallies

The post-general finance reports are in, and Eric Massa outraised Randy Kuhl by more than $150K in the period from mid-October to late November. Massa spent almost half a million dollars in that time period. Kuhl spent close to $300K.

Massa's fundraising total for the whole period was about $2 million. Kuhl raised about $1.5 million. Both candidates spent roughly what was raised. Randy has $61K in cash remaining, and Massa has a net of about $15K if he uses his cash to pay off his campaign debts.

As usual, most of Massa's money came from individual donations, often via ActBlue, the Democratic donation bundling site. Massa also got a number of donations from fellow Democrats.

The bulk of Kuhl's donations came from corporate PACs, including a number of banks (Credit Suisse and JP Morgan Chase were two). Kuhl got little help from his Republican colleagues during the last part of the campaign, which is probably an indicator that most of them were in tough races, and those who weren't didn't have a lot of money.

Finally, Kuhl spent $12,000 on robo-calls, which I assume were GOTV-related. Massa didn't spend a cent that I could find on calls. Robo-calls are the weakest form of GOTV. Massa's 2000-person strong turnout brigade made them unnecessary: I received something like two or three human calls from Massa volunteers on election day or the night before. This makes me think Kuhl's GOTV was weak this cycle, and it might reflect a general lack of enthusiasm among Republicans in the district.

Morning News: Auto Bailout, NY's Share

WETM has an interview with Eric Massa about the loan package for automakers. Massa says that operating in bankruptcy is not an option for a company like GM. If GM went bankrupt, it would be liquidated.

Jimmy Vielkind at PolitckerNY interviews Massa about New York's share of the federal budget. New York pays in far more than it gets back from the federal government, and Massa thinks its time that we got more of our share back.

Video of both interviews is embedded after the break:

More on the Gannett Layoffs

Gannettblog's count of Gannett Layoffs pegs the count at the combined Elmira/Binghamton operation at 40.

Also, WXXI says that the D&C's cut of 59 positions hit 12 in the newsroom (via Rochesterturning).

Yesterday, one of the sports reporters laid off at Gannett's Courier-Post property, which covers South Jersey, revealed in his last blog post that the newsroom there had shrunk to 107 70 people. That newspaper now employs about 425, according to Gannettblog. That means that the D&C newsroom has about 160 106 employees, if staffing patterns at both papers are comparable.

I'd link to that blog post, but it's been removed from the Courier-Post's site.

Update: But Google never forgets. I used the wrong number, and fixed the post.

Huge D&C Layoffs

Reader Elmer sends a Gannettblog item on today's D&C layoff announcement. Fifty-nine jobs were eliminated today.

What's more interesting is that the D&C still employs 690 in Rochester. It's not clear if other Gannett properties such as The Insider, RocMoms, etc. are included in that count.

What is clear is that maintaining a print plant while trying to grow an Internet site is a tall order when you're laying off 8% of your staff. The Rochester market is ripe for a TV station or a startup to hire 69 people, or even 39 people, and take a big run at the D&C online.