Friday…Some Black Press financials, Daysog on Harris, Steve Holmes reappears, and reactions to the Civil Unions incivility

Torstar Corporation, publisher of the Toronto Star and minority shareholder in Black Press, which owns the Star-Bulletin and MidWeek, reported its financial results for the 4th quarter and full year of 2008 this week.

Torstar’s results provide the only publicly available information about the condition of Black Press.

Here is the relevant section of Torstar’s press release concerning Black Press:

$26.3 million of the loss from associated businesses in 2008 was from Black Press. During Torstar’s fourth quarter, Black Press determined that it would likely record an impairment loss related to certain of its intangible assets and reporting unit goodwill in its fiscal 2009 (year ended February 2009) financial statements. The impairment loss reflects the impact that the U.S. economy and the structural challenges facing U.S. daily newspapers is having on Black Press’s U.S. newspapers. In particular, Black Press’s Beacon Journal in Akron has suffered an impairment of its value. Torstar has recorded an estimate of $21.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2008 for the impairment loss and expects Black Press will finalize the determination of the impairment loss during Torstar’s second quarter of 2009. Excluding this estimated impairment charge Black Press contributed a loss of $4.5 million in 2008 down from income of $3.1 million in 2007. The lower results in 2008 were a combination of reduced U.S. revenues as the newspapers were negatively impacted by the U.S. economy, increased newsprint costs, higher amortization expense, the mark to market of financial derivatives, higher effective tax rates and a $2.1 million second quarter adjustment related to Black Press’s future tax assets.

Coming against the backdrop of closing of the Rocky Mountain News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and possibly the San Francisco Chronicle, I certainly hope this isn’t as bad as it sounds. Hopefully one of you financially savvy types will interpret these numbers for us.

Did you catch Rick Daysog’s entry yesterday on his Biz Bites blog? He got curious and tried to track down Jeremy Harris. His interview attempt ended abruptly.

I called Harris on his cell phone earlier this week and asked him for an interview.

Harris told me he was retired and was not interested in participating in any story. End of interview. Click.

But he went on to track down some interesting details, from Harris’ divorce to his string of properties stretching from Waikiki to Costa Rica.

He must have scrimped and saved when he was mayor, I guess.

And did I hear that Hawaii Public Radio report correctly? Former City Council member Steve Holmes might return to run for the vacant District 3 seat? There’s a name we haven’t heard for a while. Last time I had any contact, Steve and his wife had moved back and were living on the Big Island. But he was around City Hall on Wednesday and talking to people about his intended run for the seat.

Let’s see. Opponents of the civil unions bill at the Legislature say it would hurt Hawaii. In fact, the opposite seems to be true.

The was sent to me soon after the marathon Senate hearing by a representative of my alma mater, Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.

The message was sent to him by the retired rector of an Episcopal church in Walla Walla, who provided this introduction.

Ash Wednesday Greetings from Kahana on Maui,
On this Ash Wednesday I want to share with you an e-mail I got this morning from a very good friend here on Maui. After you have read it, I ask for your prayers for them and all who have been subject to oppression, hatred and violence, and far too often by those who claim the name of Christ. May God forgive us.

Then came the forwarded message.

Bill and i spent a long day yesterday in HNL for the public hearings on HB 444 civil unions. it’s been 20 years since i have been exposed to such concentrated hate speech on the part of those testifying.

i heard that Massachusetts has gone to hell over gay marriage, that fathers could marry sons, that gays and lesbians are diseased, that the economy of Hawaii will fail as a result of all the gays who will flock here & sign up for welfare. sadly, after 10 hours, Bill and i had to leave for our flight thus not having the opportunity to testify. as an added bonus, i was physically threatened on the way out of the hearing room, and had to be escorted to the curb by capitol security.

most of the opponents of the bill wore red shirts; those who weren’t “red shirts” wore t’s that said “marriage is between a man and a woman.” most seemed to have come for a few fundamentalist congregations who were most effective in getting the folks out.

i had nightmares last night, and today i’m still feeling throughly assaulted. i suppose the positive of it all is that i understand more fully how deep and wide the fear and hatred of gays is here in these islands… i’ll now look over my shoulder at all times…

a hui hou — Mark

So there’s our image that the world has seen this week. Not good.

I would also recommend the commentary by Big Island reporter/blogger Tiffany Edwards Hunt, “Homophobes and other hate mongers: You are not welcome here.”

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