Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Autumn Memories

Last week Sniper's "Maxinista: Old Baggage" column generated a lot of mail, but none as portentous as this, written in a voice and style reminiscent of Justanothernappyhead, two persons who published a column with us once that also drew a lot of postings and speculations as to who was whom in our authorial blogosphere. What follows will be edited for length, and the reply, written by a Local staffer concerned about getting fired by the still-ruling A.A. clique, unfortunately, will also be edited for length .

"Notanappy" accuses production honcho Scott Alloway of being Sniper, because of the numerous cracks Sniper has made about Joe Pie, an enforcer for the Dornemann Executive Committee clique. As EE, I can tell you unequivocably , S isn't S. But Notanappy is definitely Mr. & Mrs. Nancy Berger . . .

With apologies, for all this sneaking around. (That's how truly bad the situation at the Local is, polite old ladies & gents of the SOC and the A.A.)

-- John Lombardi

"Oh, Scott, let it go already. The guy [Joe Pie] never did anything to you except maybe embarass you. I doubt he ever had any interest except in stopping you and every other Local employee from doing things that would have cost you your jobs at any other company.

You still have your job. You still have use of the community's nice computer equipment (for your personal use). You and Ellen [Weiser] got to call [Joe] names on the record. And now you even get to run for the Board.

Did I mention you still have your job> . . . . Even though he uncovered and reported to the Board, that you and your backroom gang were doing some pretty lame things with the Local's website, the editorial layouts and the Local e-mail system. The Board never pursued it because [Joe] himself told us that fixing the blame wasn't as important as fixing the environment that allowed it to happen . . .

So you lost your webmaster access, big deal. You still got your paycheck. When you filed your little wage claim against the Local, [Joe] never once got involved with it. He only advised that we do the lawful thing whatever the outcome. And you got your extra hours paid, didn't you?

He never did anything personally to you except STOP you. He never did anything to Robyn [another production worker] except remind her to be fair as she cut pieces from the paper.

He did do some incredibly good things for you . . . I know for a fact he even spoke out for Jimmy [Pack, a layout artist] to come back from his expletive-laced walkout when the rest of the power elite were insisting that he was gone forever. I heard his lectures to you all . . . they were short, not sweet, but certainly you knew he . . . meant what he said [!] If you all felt bullied, then you must have been innocent of all the petty mischief. Everyone knows that was not the case. So you got caught, guilty as sin, embarassed by this volunteer [Pie]. You were the one screaming and insisting on a lawyer. All he ever did was ask you to pull down your slick little links on the Community's website.

So give it a break already and tell your equally pissed-off friends to do the same. You don't have to like him . . . but you sure as hell ought to stop jumping on his ass just because your feelings were hurt (deservingly so.

You owe this guy for still having a job. Chestnut Hill owes him for still having a somewhat credible paper.

I was there. I saw it with my own eyes."

-- Notafanofbullshit


To which we can only say: Yes you were, Nancy. And you still don't know the difference between flacking for some Western Pa. business concern, and operating a newspaper. The problem is , no one in A.A., and only half the people in SOC, seem to appreciate the difference, either. CH Notebook volunteers a free class at the CH Library for all readers truly interested in learning Journalism Principles, 101.

Below is a reply by the Local staffer, mentioned above:


""To clarify a decrepit old scenario, let's revisit my memoirs of the events of Oct., 2005. We were left without anyone to man the ship. [Sturdivant and Mishak] had flown the coop for more peaceful seas.

When you don't have an editorial staff per se, who provides content for a weekly paper? It was a Friday afternoon when we learned of our situation. Our deadline is 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays. If late, we accrue a fixed fee per quarter hour until the job is all sent. We had to start working on something. We had to attempt to keep our jobs. Wouldn't you do the same? I kept my cool. I didn't walk out the back door. My goal was short and sweet: 'Get the Paper Out.'

We had no IT person. That's the guy who handles programs, computer functions, incoming e-mails. Incoming is what we needed to provide content for the Local. We had to start somewhere: Letters.

The CHCA "managers" at the time really didn't know what to do. Didn't know us well enough (or trust us) to understand we could put out the paper. They asked for outside help from the Board to handle the crisis. We needed access to the material that flowed through [Sturdivant and Mishak's] accounts. But then we were accused of not printing certain people's letters . . . Chaos ensued. A man named Kothare and Joe Pie began telling us an account we'd created to receive communication from readers, etc. wasn't going to work. They told us in unfriendly terms.

People on the outside couldn't see this, and our paychecks were on the line -- rent due, car payments, credit card bills . . . And there were other problems. The Local has a mailing permit that allows 52 weeks of publication . If we miss one we lose our mailing permit and would have to pay more to get another. Also if we missed an issue, advertisers [who pay our bills], would have to be issued credits that would put the paper in a financial hole, and advertisers might pull their ads for good. We had the option to quit -- which one of the managers suggested -- or keep on. I remember someone telling me that I didn't have to do my job. [Which showed how clueless that person was . . .]

We had roadblocks from the help the managers requested from the Board. Communication was unclear, and power plays underlay every move. [They were using the occasion to take over the paper.] None of us thought we'd have a job [for long}. Those people who supported us had been at the Local before the resignations [of Sturdivant and Mishak.] Gossip was being spread about [our actions] that was misconstrued.

We weren't trusted but our 'backroom gang' kept up with the news, even if we made some mistakes. My co-worker [-- Scott Alloway --] had previous experience as an editor , was a key in how to go on putting everything together. I thank and appreciate him. When a person who knows what they're doing and someone [who doesn't] tries to stop them and stand in their way, it's insulting. Most of this has been resolved, but you can read about how we were referred to as 'terrorists and parasites', accused of violating editorial rights. Staffers were threatened by telephone call, e-mail and in person. Can't you understand we were just doing our jobs to the best of our knowledge?

"Accusation is not proof," as Edward R. Murrow said [about Joe McCarthy.] What stands as proof is that we got a paper out every week. What stands as proof is that we are still present and work for your ever-reputable Chestnut Hill Local. We didn't have an agenda, no matter how hard you try to say it. We had a job and a responsibility that we were trying to fulfill. Anyone in that office who came up to me and asked if we should all just walk out will know that I said no . . . 'Let's wait and see.'
I know one thing for certain: You were proud of us when we managed to put out that paper [despite a lack of staff.] You were proud when we showed our faces to you and said what we needed to say. We stood up for the freedom to take charge and execute the goals of [ the Local.] Any witty fallacies that say otherwise are based on nothing more than emotional whiplash -- because you're unaware of the decisions that had to be made on the spur of the moment in order to get the job done.
I'm sorry you feel the way you do, and that the board hasn't seen what we've done. If it did, we might have gotten more than cookies in this month's annual raise."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i want to know what sniper has to say.

Fri Apr 14, 03:49:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What? Haven't you heard enough from Sniper?

Fri Apr 14, 12:16:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No. Somebody needs to expose what the Maxinistas/Actionistas have done (and will do if they win again). Their promises and "we love Chestnut Hill" mantra would gag a maggot.

Fri Apr 14, 03:01:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Nancy Berger said...

Enough already!
My husband, Chris Henderson, was "Justanothernappyhead," not me. When that blog appeared, I was still employed at the Local and trying to keep my proverbial nose clean in the midst of all of that chaos (also "concerned about getting fired by the still-ruling A.A. clique"). I had NO IDEA that Chris was Nap and corresponding with John Lombardi until a few weeks later, when an e-mail exchange between Lombardi and me revealed that he and Nap were going to meet for a drink that night. I begged to come and see who ostensibly knew me so well, but was rebuffed. It was not until an hour before their meeting that my husband revealed his secret identity and activities. By then, I had already been released from my bondage at the Local and really didn't care. I actually thought it was all pretty funny ... comic relief, as it were.
Within hours of dispatching the e-mail announcing my departure from the Local on Feb. 28, Lombardi was on the horn with me asking for an article outing the Maxinistas, who had so royally set me up. I still haven't written it because, frankly, enough is enough. I know what I did and didn't do: I freely admit what mistakes I made; I know what I stand for, and what positive things I contributed to the Local over my four and a half years there. That's all that really matters to me at this point.
All I ever wanted was to see the Local be RUN LIKE A BUSINESS, which as a newspaper, it is. My greatest fault was thinking . hoping . that I could make a difference. Rose-colored glasses. Eternally optimistic. Non-conspiracy-theorist.
My husband, the clandestine "Nap," also declined Lombardi's later requests to "throw more mud." Chris made it clear that he, too, was sickened by the name-calling, and that he would only write for the blog from that point on under his own name: only positive pieces stressing issues that all sides could agree with, possibly providing a foundation on which to rebuild what's become a shattered community.
I'm concerned for those of you reading this blog because Lombardi, who claims to be on the side of the SOC, has not been honest. Both my husband and I have e-mails from him promising no "outing" of us if we chose to write anonymously -- (I will gladly forward those e-mails to anyone who cares) -- yet just yesterday (I guess) he chose to do so on these pages. So if one wants anonymity, can one be sure that such a promise will be kept by the erstwhile EE? Don't we all know by now that Sniper is Len Lear? Have you noticed that Lombo carefully edits what gets posted to protect those he wants to keep in his camp?
Where is evidence here of proper journalism principles which the writer suggests I study?
While I have chosen not to spend my days slamming my former co-employees on this blog, I feel it's necessary to make the following point to the now-martyred Sturdivant and Mishak: I dearly hope neither one of you ever has to work in Corporate America -- or any job -- where the boss makes you do things you don't like. The whining would be deafening and could, perhaps, cause that soon-to-be-expected earthquake in San Francisco.
I am also NOT "Notafanofbullshit" ... see above. This is my first submission to the blog!
And oh, yeh -- I have friends in both the AA and the SOC. Am I allowed to do that?

Tue Apr 18, 09:51:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous John Lombardi said...

I suppressed a number of ugly stories and e-mails provided by the folks above at their request, when Ms. Berger was of two minds about how she wanted to proceed, and I told her I'd never out her or Chris as long as they didn't lie to me,
Been an editor for a long time. Know how to read voice, tone, rhythm. E-mails from Chris weren't a match for the Nappy or Notafan columns, but e-mails from Nancy were.
And that last Notafan column shmutz was meant to indict and hurt an innocent man, Scott Alloway, just because Nancy is a mean fool who perceived him as an enemy, and now she's doing the same thing to poor Len Lear, who has nothing to do with the blog either.
Big newsflash, Nancela: Corporations and little local weeklies have different ethics, expectations and aims. If any of you and your friends in SOC or AA want to work in corporate suites, you ought to try to get jobs there.
And stay away from little islands of free press territory -- you only wreck it and misunderstand it

Tue Apr 18, 12:17:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous John Lombardi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tue Apr 18, 12:45:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Nancy Berger said...

John -- I implore you to do what I have asked in numerous e-mails. PROVE that I am "notafan" by looking at the headers of the e-mail -- or something to get to the truth -- because you are now treading on dangerous territory by slamming me undeservedly.
You declare that I lied to you. How? When? Where?
Maybe I'm just too naive for all of this, but Scott Alloway and I managed to work side-by-side pretty damn well when I was at the Local. I have no axe to grind with him. How could I perceive him as an enemy when the far bigger fish (team Max) were after my ass?
It's a free country. Free speech goes both ways. Why would I target Scott out of a gaggle of other SOC -- or AA -- nominees?
Personally, I think ANYONE who wants to keep putting themselves into that quagmire is nuts -- but that's their choice, not mine.

Wed Apr 19, 08:25:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


It sounds like you and Chris have a very healthy releationship - with all these lies and secrets...


Tue Apr 25, 09:30:00 AM EDT  

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