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As the Globe turns

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Rumblings inside the New York Times Co. indicate that the Boston Globe may be heading toward the auction block. But the Times Co.’s exit plan got a lot cloudier yesterday, when the local businessman who had been publicly chasing the Globe announced a deal to buy seven daily newspapers out west.

The Orange County Register reported yesterday that it, along with six other related papers, will be acquired by a trust controlled by Aaron Kushner, a Boston-area businessman. Kushner had previously seen a bid to acquire Maine’s biggest newspaper group collapse over conflicts over hours, wages, and job protection at the papers. Kushner wound up kicking the tires on the Maine papers after putting together a high-profile group to bid on the Globe, and then being told by the Times Co. that the paper wasn’t for sale.

Kushner assembled a team last year that included former Globe newsroom honcho Ben Bradlee, Jr., and two members of the Taylor family that sold the Globe to the Times Co. for $1.1 billion in 1993. Jack Connors had also been publicly linked to the group. Kushner’s team put a $200 million unsolicited bid to the Times Co., but was rebuffed by the company’s then-CEO, Janet Robinson.

New York magazine recently dove deep into the financial turmoil and power struggles at the Times Co. The magazine argued that Robinson’s recent sacking stemmed from conflict inside the family that controls the Times Co. Members of the Ochs-Sulzberger family are seeing their personal finances squeezed by the Times Co.’s financial struggles, and are pressing company management to free up cash to resume lucrative dividend payments. These sorts of familial conflicts led the Bancroft clan to sell the Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch, and the New York article keyed in on maneuvers by the Ochs-Sulzbergers to free up cash while still retaining control of the Times, their flagship property.

According to New York, those efforts focus heavily on unloading the Globe. The magazine reported that internal tensions within the Times Co. exploded after Robinson rebuffed Kushner’s Globe takeover bid. Robinson, according to New York, wanted to put off selling the Globe until after the paper’s new paid site took hold “and possibly improved the paper’s sale value.” The Globe is now being overseen by a Sulzberger cousin who clashed with Robinson, and who, New York reported, “wanted to see [the paper] sold sooner rather than later.”

If the post-Robinson Times Co. is now more willing to unload the Globe, though, it faces a cloudier market. In a statement to the Herald yesterday, Kushner didn’t close the door to making future media acquisitions, but he’s surely working with a shorter pile of cash after buying in Orange County than he was before. Connors tells the Herald today that he hasn’t spoken to Kushner in six months. “I’m out of that loop,” he says. “I’m not an investor.” 

                                                                                                                                            --PAUL MCMORROW


BEACON HILL

A new report says more than 3,000 jobs have been created at Devens, even with the demise of Evergreen Solar, according to as story in the Lowell Sun.

Peter Lucas, writing in the Lowell Sun, blames Gov. Deval Patrick for the 4.9 percent tuition hike at the University of Massachusetts.

A federal judge denies former Probation Department chief John O’Brien’s request for a public defender.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Residents of Middleboro approve a $20 fine for using profanity in public, AP reports (via NECN).

A Beacon Hill meeting between members of Scituate’s housing authority and state officials failed to resolve the impasse over the state’s freezing of the authority’s reserve account after two members refused to sign the documents because of language regarding perjury.

The Eagle-Tribune, in an editorial, slams Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua for not attending graduation ceremonies at Lawrence High School.

Fitchburg takes on feral cats.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

A ballot question in North Dakota would abolish property taxes, the Dickinson Press reports.

A court rules that Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey cannot abolish an affordable housing council, the Star-Ledger reports.

Time’s Joe Klein examines the emerging white underclass popularized by Charles Murray, whose book, Coming Apart, was reviewed by UMass Amherst journalism professor Ralph Whitehead in the spring issue of CommonWealth.

ELECTION 2012

Dan Payne, in a column for WBUR’s website, says Gov. Scott Walker’s reelection in Wisconsin is cause for concern for Elizabeth Warren.

Warren accepts an debate invitation from the new Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate and UMass Boston; Sen. Scott Brown’s campaign says it is mulling the invitation.

The National Review comes to Mitt Romney’s defense in a praise-filled analysis of his one term as governor that towers over President Obama’s accomplishments. Interestingly, while the piece highlights the blue hue of the Legislature, it continually points to budget problems Romney inherited “from his predecessor” without mentioning she was a Republican.

The Atlantic looks at whether the volume of racist Google searches can predict the impact of race on elections.

Don’t tell Bill Clinton or Cory Booker, but those attacks on Bain Capital are working. The Obama campaign plans to tee up Romney again, but the teetering economy is throwing it off course.

Romney’s office blocked publication of an anti-bullying guide while he was governor because of objections to its using the words “bisexual” and “transgender,” the Globe reports.

Nearly half of voters think that the Republicans are intentionally throwing wrenches into the economic recovery to torpedo President Obama’s reelection chances.

Jeb Bush knocks a GOP “orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement,” suggesting his father and Ronald Reagan would have a “hard time” operating today.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The financial crisis left the median US family in 2010 no better off than it was in the early 1990s, wiping out nearly 20 years of asset gains, the Federal Reserve said Monday.

The House is talking up a bill passed in the Senate that requires banks to modify rather than foreclose on a mortgage if an analysis shows the refinance would be cheaper for both sides.

Chip Tuttle of Suffolk Downs and Celeste Meyers of No Eastie Casino go at it on Jim Braude’s Broadside show.

The new developer of the stalled Filene’s redevelopment releases details on the project’s height and tenant mix.

A $11.5 million deal for State Street Corp. is the latest tax break Boston is handing out to deep-pocketed firms who are developing on the city’s waterfront.

Don Chiofaro is trying an unusal new tack: play nice.

EDUCATION

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launches an institute at Wellesley College whose goal is to have half of the world’s leaders be women b y 2050, WBUR reports.

The Fall River School Committee approved an ROTC alternative at B.M.C. Durfee High School after the Navy decommissioned the school’s junior officer program for failing to meet enrollment minimums.

The Pittsfield Promise, a literacy program aimed at third-graders, scores a national award and The Berkshire Eagle calls on lawmakers to extend the program statewide.

HEALTH CARE

Despite the state’s 98 percent coverage rate, 14 percent of Massachusetts adults who got sick last year say they were unable to get the care they needed, mostly because of high out-of-pocket costs or denial of coverage, according to a new poll released on Monday.

An at-home test kit for HIV recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration could have a major impact on diagnosis rates. An estimated 20 percent of infected people in the US are currently undiagnosed, according to public health leaders.

TRANSPORTATION

Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey offers proposals to help pay for the Green Line extension and reel in federal dollars. However, none of the outlined measures has been approved by the Legislature.  Meanwhile, the House is poised to vote tomorrow on a $49 million emergency package that will fill most, but not quite all, of the T’s budget gap for the coming fiscal year.

The MetroWest Daily News points out another example of congressional dysfunction: the failure to come up with a new highway bill.

RELIGION

The Vatican’s campaign against US nuns is doing wonders for the book sales of a hitherto obscure 2006 volume on sexual ethics written by one of the offending sisters.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Cape Cod bear’s tour of the seashore ends in Wellfleet.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Catherine Greig faces sentencing this morning in federal court for her role in harboring accused murderer Whitey Bulger for 16 years.  Her lawyer -- who couldn’t seem to spell her name right in his sentencing memo -- is asking for leniency; prosecutors are seeking 10 years.

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