Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chestnut Hill Yokels: Excitable Boy

by John Lombardi
Well , he took Little Suzie to the Junior Prom.
'Excitable boy,' they all said.
Then he raped her & killed her & chewed off her arm.
'Excitable boy,' they all said, Ooh wah,
'Such an excitable boy.'
-- Warren Zevon

"Tiffany McMaster" was the unpromising name of the State of Pennsylvania's Unemployment Insurance referee, overseeing the challenges to Jimmy Pack's out-of work claims last Wednesday at Third and Callowhill. She'd lined up Maxine Dornnemann, Rob Remus, Dina Hitchcock and Philip LeCalsey, the CHCA's witnesses against Jimmy's case -- he was fired from the Local last December and his hearing hadn't been scheduled until late February, given the glut of out-of-work Philadelphians crowding the Department of Labor & Industry these days.

But then the Reverend Dornnemann, a major voice against Pack, had to officiate at a wedding, and the proceedings were postponed until March 11. This necessitated his appearing without his lawyer. So it was Jimmy, Robyn John, his former supervisor in the production design department of the Local, a fistful of e-mails to help his defense arguments, and a written statement from the Editor of the paper, who just couldn't get away to help his old friend.

Meaty Remus, an Information Systems honcho and Sanjiv Jain pal, led off. His argument with Jimmy after a board meeting at the Library on November 20th had brought an old enmity between the two to a head. According to Pack, Remus reacted badly after he'd dared to comment to R about his Ad Hoc committee report on the financial state of the Local and his generally Prussian attitudes: "Way to go!" J said to Remus, who'd allegedly proposed cutting Ad Director Sonia Leounes' commissions in half; allegedly suggested rearranging the placement of some major real estate ads ; eliminating a production department employee (it turned out to be Jimmy); and instituting a policy of trying to sell regional and even national ads in a 6300-per-week paper limited to a tiny circulation area of Northwest Philly . . . And most of this without having consulted the Editor, or Leounes, or any other Local managers, a normal business custom.

There were reportedly hard words between Pack and Remus on Nov. 20th, part of the subject of a rumored pending lawsuit (and therefore not describable here), but on March 11th, Remus now allegedly amended his earlier words to assert that Pack had somehow moved or pressured him against a parked car outside the Chestnut Hill Library, and had identified himself as a "reporter." Pack goes 5' 10", 220 lbs, Remus six feet, approximately 250. Pack despises conventional journalism, and asserts that he'd never represent himself that way. Remus was unavailable for comment.

Rev. Dornnemann, who resembles Laura Bush toward the end of her husband's White House days, retailed her skirmishes with Jimmy, dating back to 2005 during her chaotic presidency of the CHCA: He had, she said, demeaned her reputation by spreading rumors about her (a fact Pack denies); had called some of her pals 'fat bitches' ("fat witches"), Jimmy corrected; and was loud and profane while protesting the wholesale destruction of the Local staff and normal journalism policy after forcing then-Editor Jim Sturdivant and reporter Mike Mishak' s exits: "I quit then, too, in protest!" Pack defended himself. "But they needed me and took me back!" Hitchcock and LeCalsey, who weren't around at the time, shook their heads and kept their eyes aloof, like firing squad shooters before they get the fatal order: "At least Dornemann and Remus looked me in the eye!" Jimmy said.

But State referee McMaster had heard enough. Hitchcock had described how Pack had pushed CHCA president Tolis Vardockis out of the doorway (where he was blocking the Local's Editor from entering the office where his employee was being fired, saying "This is CHCA business!") According to Pack , he was practically accused of assault, and one of the grounds for the Editor's (failed) dismissal, several weeks later, was that he should have gone to Vardakis's "defense" when he was attacked by Wild Man Jimmy . . . Pack also admitted being "excited" and flinging his office keys on Hitchcock's desk, which she reportedly suggested was an attack on her . . .

McMaster reportedly refused to listen to Jimmy's explanations. She wouldn't allow Robyn John to testify as to his actual excellence as a production design assistant -- his real work at the paper. She wouldn't examine the Editor's statement that Pack tried to submit into evidence for his side. She noted that he was red and upset again, apparently a mortal sin in the Halls of Technocracy, where iced-tea trumps blood and good employees are expected to talk and look like Michael Chertoff , who headed FEMA in New Orleans after Brownie screwed up, and later did such a swell job complicating airplane boarding procedure for Homeland Security . . .

The Local's excitable boy is out, and he can't even collect the unemployment tax deducted from his meager pay for 11 years by Pennsylvania bureaucracy. After the Exec Committee rubberstanps the rich Iraq-vet kid whose family "has a background in newspapers" next Thursday -- beating out Mark Keintz's pick for new publisher, Stephanie Leight -- the collapse of the Local will be complete. We hear even the Editor is strongly on board, this time.

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Blogger Jeremiade said...

Sounds like Jimmy engineered his own demise. I had never heard of the key-throwing incident.

About the publisher, what will that person do? Stephaie Leight was hired about 10 years ago to help the Local. We paid her but received little to show for it. Tell us about the "rich Iraq-vet kid". I hope this person is able to do something other than collect pay.

Thu Mar 19, 08:55:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is bullshit, high school, hearsay, shit stirring nonsense that has no relevance.

At this point, you are not helping or hurting anything. You're just.... irrelevant.

Thu Mar 19, 10:58:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

Anonymous, you forgot to tell us what you are talking about. What do you take issue with? In my opinion "high school" hearsay is just about identical with college hearsay or any other for that matter. What's with the slur against high school?

Seriously, I disagree with you. Because the board has effectively tied the editor's hands at reporting on these matters, the Northwest Notebook is the only place to get such information. We need you to be relevant.

Fri Mar 20, 10:21:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Shooter said...

So then it must also be irrelevant that Stephanie Leight stole (or permanently borrowed) a WORK laptop when she left the Local ...

I mean people are overly concerned about photo rights and cameras when they're contemplating having Leight - who has stolen computer equipment - be put in a position of authority.

Somehow this defies logic but illustrates the brand of nonsense that certain board members like to support.

The board is not entirely stupid, they know how to manipulate the system. Too bad they don't have the balls to be honest about what they truly intend.

Its a sheer Lack of morals that seems to be popular in economic, business and political realms these days. Don't think that what you read and see on tv isn't happening in your own neighborhood.

Sat Mar 21, 01:50:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

Shooter, I remember when this happened. Why was it never straightened out? Why wouldn't we want our property returned?

Mon Mar 23, 06:29:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you knew anything about the law or rules of evidence, or relevance, you would know that whether or not Pack did good work regarding his job duties doesn't matter (he wasn't fired for not doing his job), and the "statement" from the editor is not credible evidence.

Also, unemployment tax is not deducted from anyone's pay. It is paid by the employer in full, not from some fund that the employees pay into.

Thu Apr 23, 03:58:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Waylaid Pilgrim said...

Editor not credible? Please.

And an unemployment tax is taken out of employees' checks. It's the SUI listing on a wage stub. Small, but it's an insurance fund.

Thu Apr 23, 06:31:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not credible because he wasn't there to be sworn in and cross-examined by the employer. Not because of what the statement contained or what the editor knew.

Unemployment insurance is designed to help people who are unemployed through no fault of their own. This guy clearly could have retained his job had he not acted like an idiot.

Thu Apr 23, 09:41:00 PM EDT  

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