Washington Post cancels plan to sell access to policy makers

Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth said today she was canceling plans for an exclusive “salon” at her home where for as much as $250,000, the Post offered lobbyists and association executives off-the-record access to “those powerful few” — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and even the paper’s own reporters and editors.

The astonishing offer was detailed in a flier circulated Wednesday to a health care lobbyist, who provided it to a reporter because the lobbyist said he felt it was a conflict for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its “health care reporting and editorial staff.”

With the Post newsroom in an uproar after POLITICO reported the solicitation, Weymouth said in an email to the staff that “a flier went out that was prepared by the Marketing department and was never vetted by me or by the newsroom. Had it been, the flier would have been immediately killed, because it completely misrepresented what we were trying to do.”

Caught red handed.

California legislators and UC Bezerkley profs get paid in cash while the needy get IOUs

A Reuters blog (yes, I said Reuters) has the story:

People who get California IOUs People California pays in cash
Grants to aged, blind or disabled persons University of California
People needing temporary assistance for basic family needs Public Employees’ Retirement System
People in drug prevention, treatment, and recovery services Legislators, legislative employees, and appointees
Persons with developmental disablities Judges
People in mental health treatment Department of Corrections
Small Business Vendors Health Care Services payments to Institutional Providers

White House releases staff salaries, TOTUS not on list

As Billy Ray Valentine once said:   “We are paying some of our employees an awful lot of money.”

Twenty-eight-year-old speechwriter Jon Favreau, for example, rakes in the top salary, $172,000: just as much as Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senior Advisor’s David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett and National Security Advisor Gen. Jim Jones.

The President’s ever-present “body man” Reggie Love scores a paycheck of $102,000. Social Secretary Desiree Rogers makes $113,000.

The boy-wonder speech writer makes the same amount as the National Security Advisor.  What’s up with that?

Unemployment reaches 26-year high at 9.5%

And the hits just keep on coming.

Employers in the U.S. cut 467,000 jobs in June, the unemployment rate rose and hourly earnings stagnated, offering little evidence the Obama administration’s stimulus package is shoring up the labor market.

The payroll decline was more than forecast and followed a 322,000 drop in May, according to Labor Department figures released today in Washington. The jobless rate jumped to 9.5 percent, the highest since August 1983, from 9.4 percent.

Unemployment is projected to keep rising for the rest of the year just as the income boost from the stimulus package fades, undermining prospects for a sustained rebound in household purchases, analysts said. As companies from General Motors Corp. to Kimberly-Clark Corp. cut costs, the lack of jobs will limit any recovery.

Do we get to proclaim the stimulus package an unmitigated failure yet?

Update:

If laid-off workers who have given up looking for new jobs or have settled for part-time work are included, the unemployment rate would have been 16.5% in June, the highest on records dating to 1994.

Hack Alert! Mass Pike employees get free ride

Unbelievable.  We’re getting hit with a 25% tax increase to help bail out this hack-filled disaster while toll takers get a free ride.

Hundreds of Pike employees and retirees are cruising the toll road free and easy thanks to special Fast Lane transponders handed out to more than half the agency’s work force as a perk.

“It’s unfair for people to pay for the Pike while these people get a free ride,” said Pike board member Mary Connaughton, a Herald guest blogger. “I can’t see the reason or the point for anyone having a nonrevenue transponder for personal use.”

Pike officials vowed to eliminate the freebies after a Herald review showed a total of 4,199 “nonrevenue” transponders were on the road, and 849 out of 1,300 Pike employees have one. Another 232 Pike retirees also get free rides.

Most of the transponders – including one reserved specifically for the toll takers union Local 127 – are the result of collective bargaining agreements

That would be the same Local 127 who recently filed a grievance on behalf of toll taker Paul Moccia who placed on unpaid leave after he was accused of killing and then cooking his cocaine dealer.