Buzz

MEDIA

It looks likely this will be a one-newspaper town following The Seattle Times' Jan. 6 announcement that it lost money in 2002. That makes three consecutive years of losses for the paper, which can now invoke a "stop-loss" clause in its federally sanctioned joint operating agreement (JOA) with the Seattle Post- Intelligencer. That could result in the P-I being shuttered by Hearst Corp. Under the JOA, the Times handles advertising, production, and circulation for the P-I, which has a separate, independent news operation but no printing press. The stop-loss clause requires the Times and Hearst to enter into talks on how to dissolve the agreement. Currently, profits are split 60 percent for the Times and 40 percent for the P-I. If Hearst chose to close its paper, it would still earn 32 percent of the Times' profits until the agreement expires in 2083.

Kerry Coughlin, a Times spokesperson, declined to say how much money the privately held company lost in 2002 or when it might start to unravel the JOA. But it's clear something is afoot. The Times has hired Bill Richards, a former Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reporter, to work as a freelancer, covering the ins and outs of the Times-P-I agreement. Richards will work under a unique arrangement in which senior Times editors will have no input on his stories.

MONORAIL

Seattle Popular Monorail Authority director Joel Horn gets more than a $180,000 salary. He also gets to pick his lieutenants, and so far Horn's top picks include some awfully familiar names. The new hires announced Tuesday include communications director Rita Brogan (salary: $140,000), a former consultant for First and Goal, Paul Allen's stadium-development company. (Allen backed the voter- rejected Seattle Commons proposal, which Horn twice shepherded to the polls, and hired Horn's former employer, developer Wright Runstad, to manage his Lake Union properties after the Commons failed.) There's also Joe McWilliams (salary: $150,000), the new director of right of way assembly, a former Wright Runstad veep. Ross MacFarlane, the Preston, Gates and Ellis attorney tapped to oversee the monorail's legal dealings, served on the board of—all together now—the Committee for the Commons.

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON

The Justice Department is preparing a criminal indictment of at least one more University of Washington doctor in the government's four-year investigation into Medicare and Medicaid fraud at the medical school, Seattle Weekly has learned. Last November, Dr. H. Richard Winn, the respected former head of the school's Department of Neurological Surgery, was given a suspended sentence and five years probation for obstructing the federal investigation.

CITY HALL

If you think elected representatives care what you have to say, try this: Send an e-mail to Mayors.Office@seattle.gov. The response: "Thank you for contacting the office of Mayor Greg Nickels. We have recently created a web page to receive your comments and are no longer receiving e-mails." Go to the mayor's Web site and you'll find a comment form, which requires you to fill in your full name, e-mail address, city, and zip code. Don't want to give out personal information? Too bad. The mayor is the only city official who won't accept e-mail from his constituents.

Compiled by Erica C. Barnett

ebarnett@seattleweekly.com

 
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