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Criticism, sports, pay raises, award



Column_headshot_JOHN_HA
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August 27, 2013 | 12:56 PM
"Does your paper endorse the comments and views of W.C.? His recent comment targeting Chris Ann's Resale business seemed like a personal shot at her business. I find this bias, and consider it as him airing his dirty laundry!"

That was an email I received last week from California, of all places, referring to a comment Sal Dimiceli wrote in his The Time is Now column last week.

There were many criticisms of Dimiceli's comment on our website plus I received two phone calls and the threat of a lawsuit.

First, the only comments I endorse in the Regional News are my own. Sal's column is in a section clearly marked in very big letters "Commentary." That's also the place where we run my column, letters to the editor and commentary by politicians of all stripes. I like to offer a broad perspective and allow varying opinions in that section — including criticisms of the paper and other opinions that I may or may not share.

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Here's what Dimiceli wrote:

"Please contact us direct for any furniture, appliance or any item donations. We are no longer collecting or distributing these items through Chris Ann's Resale Shop. While we wish Chris Ann the best, we are no longer offering charitable donation receipts at her store. My repeated attempts to work with Chris Ann regarding her pricing, offering free items for the handicapped, and other store suggestions, has left me unable to continue our mission together."

Dimiceli, a philanthropist who has given away millions of dollars of his own money, has been promoting Chris Ann's Resale Shop for months and months. In fact the last few weeks, he's written strong commentary urging people to support the store.

So, I think Dimiceli is allowed a rather tame comment buried at the end of his column explaining why he is no longer collecting or distributing through the store. He said the two of them couldn't agree on pricing, offering free items and other store suggestions. Based on the phone calls I received, that was clearly the case. They couldn't agree and parted ways. How is that inaccurate?

Apparently, the two have agreed to not level accusations anymore, so I hope the book is closed on the issue.

Sports coverage

"You're going to love being sports editor so much you'll give up your jobs as general manager and editor."

Those are the paraphrased words of Mike Ramczyk during his last day as sports editor of the Regional News.

Mike has left us to be sports editor of his hometown newspaper, the Burlington Standard Press. He'll be great there as he was here.

He made those comments prior to the party we had after work that night. So he was sober and I don't think he was kidding because he repeated the comment at the tavern.

It's true, I will be handling sports until we do hire someone else and getting a whole lot of help from other staffers, coaches and athletic directors.

But we do plan to hire a new sports editor. We have a couple of promising prospects — a phrase that sounds an awful lot like sports jargon (I'm practicing).

One of those prospects is not me.

It's true that I started off in the newspaper racket wanting to be a sports writer. I grew up loving sports but not being very good at them — a typical profile for a sports writer (Ramczyk excluded).

But my career quickly veered off into news, management and, eventually, into the business side of newspapering.

One of those jobs though was being editor of another weekly with a two-person staff. That meant I did double as sports editor.

One of my lasting memories was of standing out in the pouring rain trying to keep my camera dry watching the local football team take a drubbing.

I decided then that sports would not be in my future as a full-time gig.

So, contrary to Mike's prediction, I'll keep my day jobs as editor and general manager.

And work really hard to be replaced as sports editor of the Regional News.

In the meantime, we'll try to cover area sports as best we can.

Everyone in the news department will probably be chipping in — but they have day jobs too and we don't want to cut back on news.

So, we'll try our best, but you may see a little less sports in the Regional News the next few weeks.

If you have concerns, please contact the editor who will give the interim sports editor a good talking to.

Pay raises

Last week I wrote a column about pay raises for Lake Geneva city council members.

I heard from two readers who made good points against a pay raise.

One noted that being on the city council should be an act of giving back — not taking away.

He also mentioned that if a pay raise were given it should be no more than the raise that was given to city employees.

The other reader mentioned that we might "get even goofier" people running for the job if the pay was raised. They might just run for office for the money. And that would be a real disservice to the community.

Betterment award

The Regional News will be receiving the Community Betterment Award at the Geneva Lake Area Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting Sept. 11.

I certainly appreciate the award, but I was a little embarrassed when I found out that the award presentation mentioned me by name.

This is not false modesty.

Anyone who puts his picture in the paper every week has to have an ego.

But if it's the editorial approach that won over the chamber, well, that's developed every week in staff meetings with the editorial department.

If it's the support of area businesses in our advertising, well the sales and production departments do almost all of that.

If it's being greeted professionally and dealt with fairly, well, that's no more than I'd expect of any business.

And if it weren't for this city and its citizens, it would be difficult to do our jobs.

When we receive the award, all the staff members in attendance will be on the stage to receive it because they deserve it as much or more than I do.

Too bad there won't be room for all you readers.

Halverson is editor and general manager of the Lake Geneva Regional News.

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