End of an Era

In the staff box below is a phrase averring ownership of the Voice as yours. And that’s true, broadly; strictly speaking, however, the paper belongs to the Chief and myself–which means we set policy and pay all the bills.

But the paper has never been profitable. We’ve run it the last five years as a necessary community service–something we’d like to know would continue in the event of our demise or retirement. Some day somebody has to be able inherit this mantle without wasting into catastrophic debt.

As it currently stands, to break even each edition has to raise approximately $7000. That’s $168k annually.

Thus, a restructuring.

We’ll appear with the same frequency, and may even be able to widen our circulation. Valley Scene, however, must be a casualty. Just not entirely. We intend to absorb it, though reduced, into the front section.

The brainchild of our first associate editor, Steve Pastis, we’ve run Scene from, I think, our second issue. It’s been a luxury. True, Scene may have been primarily responsible for our not having to pay the IRS during a few lean years, but this isn’t about our bottom line.

It’s about preparing the paper to be inheritable.

Because the community needs a community newspaper. I mean, where would we be without one? The Visalia Times-Delta can’t be said to be local any longer, and, as a daily, it can’t seem to do the deep dives afforded the Valley Voice. Plus, we’re truly independent. There’s no home office–unless you consider that we operate the paper from our home.

I don’t know if the Visalia Times-Delta is profitable. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be–it’s part of the Gannett portfolio, and it is that portfolio, overarchingly, which has to be profitable. For all I know, the Visalia Times-Delta could fashion a portion of Gannett’s tax write-off strategy.

OK–that’s the sharp end sorted. Now for something completely different.

Yesterday Panther, our black cat (I wanted to name him Lucky) who is senile and, according to various websites, between the human ages of 80 and 95, sloped off to the back yard to expire. All day some demented bird shrieked at and dive bombed him, and between writing this and everything else going on I shooed the bird yonder. This morning Panther staggered into the house on three good legs and proceeded to keel over on the tile.

He’s not dead yet, but I have no doubt we’re watching him go. Mercifully, he does not seem to be suffering–and I can only surmise that the cool tile and our well known voices are a comfort.

It’s the end of another era. I watched him being born in a dresser drawer in our Lemon Cove house 16 years ago.

Panther died while I was listening to public comments at the June 19 Tulare City Council meeting. All day I said my goodbyes to him, and I know he knew he was surrounded by his family.

And now, tonight–finally–a vote on the reorganization of Tulare’s city council. This was Carlton Jones’ last day as Mayor.

After nearly two and a half hours of public comment at the June 19 meeting, Councilman Jose Sigala motioned for a reorganization of the council with David Macedo taking over as mayor.

The question is: Was this arranged in advance?

Because Jones, gobsmackingly, seconded the motion and asked for a vote all in one breath.

Five simultaneous ayes issued from the dais, and Jones’ time as mayor abruptly ended.

Not the end of an era, perhaps, so much as a step in the right direction.

— Joseph Oldenbourg


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  1. Mr. Oldenbourg;

    Please accept my condolences. I am remembering the demise of my last then retired guide dog, Goliath, also at about 16.

    It’s never easy.

    As I write this, our twelve year old indoor cat named China has just jumped up next to my keyboard expecting to be petted.

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