Off-the-wall "Internet columnist/performance artist" Andy Martin, who splits time between Chicago and South Florida, is doing his part to help the cash-strapped folks at Sun-Sentinel sister paper Chicago Tribune. It's not altogether pleasant, but then nothing that Martin does ever is -- and we might be thankful for that, whether he's on the mark or off his nut.
From his "press release":
Andy Martin will come to the rescue of the embattled and embittered Chicago Tribune newsroom Wednesday, with a 'care package' of paper, paper clips, pads and pens.
'It broke my heart to read that Tribune employees were being told to count papers clips and economize on post-it notes and who knows what else?' says Martin. 'Colonel McCormick must be turning in his grave. Not to worry. I am coming to the rescue. To use the Democrats' old phrase, ‘Help is on the way.'
'Wednesday at 4:00 P.M. I am going to deliver a ‘care package' of stationary supplies to the Tribune newsroom. If billionaire Sam Zell, who is busy filing frivolous lawsuits against San Diego County, California, can't afford to provide office supplies for his employees, I will. They have a word for people like Zell: ‘cheap.' What is Zell going to do next? Lower the lighting level as an ‘energy conservation' measure?
'I am also advising Mr. Zell that I will make 50,000 of my frequent flyer miles available to Tribune employees, so they can travel to news events. I'll even throw in a couple of extra bucks for drinks. What good is a reporter on the road without a little distilled lubricant?
'Sam Zell has been a greedy cheapskate all his life, and he is trying to make more money by trying to put up the rent on helpless old ladies who live in trailer parks. Maybe that's the way Zell was brought up by his parents. I couldn't sleep at night if I made my billions that way. Now Zell is exporting his stingy tactics to the Tribune Company.
'Well, I have ‘news' for Mr. Zell. Quality is not cheap. And highly motivated professionals cannot work for peanuts. Zell is trying to convert the Tribune Company's newspapers across the United States into what we Floridians call ‘mullet wrappers,'' says Martin, 'into the Chicago Tribune Supermarket Circular.'
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Also today, Miami Herald columnist Joan Fleischman has an interesting story on a possible scam done on CBS4 and reporter Ted Scouten. Seems a sob story from a hard-luck fellow named Dexter Andre Hines may have been bogus. The story serves as a cautionary tale for journalists, especially those of the TV variety, not to lose their heads while they go for the ratings-grabbing heartstrings. But it doesn't change the fact that there's a couple of poor children involved -- and if any of the money made it to them, it wasn't completely for naught.